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Catherine MacKillop was born in 1835, the eldest child of Donald MacKillop and Marion MacLeod. She spent her childhood in old Ruisgarry, before moving to 5 Ruisgarry (Beasdaire) which her father obtained in 1850, just four years before her marriage to Donald MacLeod.
Donald and Catherine became cottars on his brother's croft at 1/2 Ruisgarry (Sandhill), where they had a family of fourteen children. Catherine was registered as a wool spinner in the 1901 census.