on something cool from my family tree

Pictured here are my great grandfather, Thomas Watters Doggart and his wife Alice. Thomas was born about 1854. They were from Northern Ireland. His daughter emigrated to Canada alone to teach school on the prairies. There my grandfather spied her and made her his wife.

The picture her appears to be one taken especially for the couple’s fiftieth wedding anniversary in 1928. A notice appeared in a Christian paper concerning the occasion:


Well-known as active Temperance workers in Nothern Ireland, Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Watters Doggart, of Newtownards, Co. Down, have recently celebrated their golden wedding. Mr. Doggart was for many years actively engaged in Temperance work, being associated with the late Rev. John Pyper in his fight against the use of alcoholic wines at the Lord’s table, a fight which ended in a victory for righteousness. A staunch Baptist, Mr. Doggart for a long period has contributed much literature in support of the principles he holds dear, and the Irish Northern Baptist Association, in 1926, unanimously appointed him as their president. Being a capable and forceful public speaker, he has occupied pulpit and platform in many parts of the country, and has been much used of God in the advancement of His kingdom. In February, 1923, a Baptist church was established in Newtownards, when Mr. Doggart was unanimously appointed the first elder of the assembly, and both he and his wife have contributed largely to the abundant success that has crowned the work then commenced. Mr. and Mrs. Doggart were the recipients ‘of a large number of congratulations on the occasion of their golden wedding, and we are sure that their friends everywhere will pray that the “last lap” of their race may be the brightest and best. Both Mr. and Mrs. Doggart have been readers of the “Christian Herald” for many years. — (W.W.)

From The Christian Herald and Signs of our Times, February, 1928, p. 168.

Is it wrong to feel some personal joy at this kind of heritage? We have been talking of the grace of God in some other posts. While there are differences on the nuances of theological points, it is beyond debate that the life of this man, three generations removed from me, yet continues to have an impact in the world. While there are many factors that contribute to the grace of God leading succeeding generations to saving faith and into Christian service, there is no doubt that one of them is the lingering effects of a life well lived in service to God.

I obtained this gem of my past through the efforts of my nephew. He wrote to the pastor of the church in Northern Ireland that my great grandfather was instrumental in founding. The church still exists, holds to an orthodox statement of faith and preaches the gospel (see the link to an online version of Ford Porter’s famous tract, God’s Simple Plan of Salvation). The current pastor of the church read my nephew’s letter to the congregation and through various connections was able to put the letter into the hands of my father’s 86 year old cousin who wrote and sent my nephew this picture, a copy of the article and other information. I got my first look at it today when my nephew and his family visited.

I am rather tickled to be able to look at this picture and think of meeting my great grandfather in glory some day.

Don Johnson
Jer 33.3


  1. Charlie says:
  2. Don Johnson says:

    Hi Charlie

    Hey, thanks for checking in. I was thrilled to find the website for the Newtownards Baptist Church and to see that it remains a gospel preaching church. Someday I hope that I will be able to make it across the pond to visit the places my forebears came from, including Newtownards. I am only 50, so Lord willing there is still time!

    Don Johnson
    Jer 33.3

  3. Valerie Walker says:

    Hello Don
    Thomas Watters Doggart is also my Great great Grandfather. His son David Hutchinson was my Grandfather. I am also a Baptist and live about 7 miles from Newtownards. I have a lot of info on the family including photos of Thomas Watters and family headstone and also his fathers. I have a copy of his obituary if you would like to have them I can e-mail them to you.

    • Hi Valerie

      Well, hello there cousin! Let’s see – your Grandfather would then be my Grandmother’s sister? Am I reading that right? That would make our parents cousins and us 2nd cousins. Unless I missed a generation there somehow, then we would be second cousins once removed, I think! All this genealogical stuff is quite confusing!

      I have never been ‘overseas’, but my brother and sister were over last summer and went to a service at the church in Newtownards. I hope to have the opportunity some day.

      And yes, I would very much like to receive any info you might have. You can send it to pastor AT gbcvic DOT org

      Thanks very much and thanks for the contact.

      Don Johnson
      Jer 33.3

  4. Valerie Walker says:

    Sorry for the very long delay in replying but I lost the link. I came upon it the other day.

    Yes, my Grandfather and your Grandmother were indeed brother and sister. I will just go and send you some information by e-mail. I don’t know what you already have.

    I also know Charlie Davidson well too! I am a member of Ballycrochan Baptist Church in Bangor.