January 2017

In this Issue:

 January Event - Burns Night  Paul Bell at the ASFG Meeting
 Letter From the Editor  Grape Arizona Wine Event
 The Year in Review - 2016  Society Officers
 Research Your Scottish Ancestry  Coming Events - CSA & Games
 Odds and Sods  State and Valley Happenings
 January Historical Article  A Word from our Advertisers

Burns Night - January 21
On January 21st, 2017, the Caledonian Society of Arizona is celebrating the life and works of Scotland's national poet, Robbie Burns with other Scots across the Valley at a Burns Night event presented by Fuil Celtic.

January 21 Burns

Come share in this event which has been a Scottish tradition for more than 250 years, and is celebrate annually around the world. There is no cover charge. Order drinks and food from the menu as you like.

For directions and the menu, visit the Dubliner Pub

Letter from the Editor, Don Finch

Dear fellow Caledonians:

Burns Suppers - the annual celebratory tribute to the life, works and spirit of the great Scottish poet, Robert Burns (1759-1796). Celebrated on, or about, the Bard's birthday, January 25th, Burns Suppers range from stentoriously formal gatherings of esthetes and scholars to uproariously informal rave-ups of drunkards and louts. Most Burns Suppers fall in the middle of this range, and adhere, more or less, to some sort of time honoured form which includes the eating of a traditional Scottish meal, the drinking of Scotch whisky, and the recitation of works by, about, and in the spirit of the Bard. (From A Burns Supper Guide, found at robertburns.org)

The Caledonian Society is encouraging our members and friends to attend the Fuil Celtic Burns Night on Saturday January 21st. Yes, its being held in a pub – The Dubliner at 3841 E Thunderbird Road in north Phoenix – but the program will be traditional with all the addresses and toasts you’re expecting. To make the evening affordable, food and drink can be ordered from the Pub’s menu. If you’ve got a kilt, wear it! Proceeds from the raffle will support Turner Syndrome research.

During the recent storage locker inventory, we came across several boxes of the Society’s files containing so many good ideas in the previous newsletters and programs. Shakespeare wrote “What's past is prologue” meaning previous actions lead to another event or situation. We’re going to cull the ‘best of the past’ and reinstate some as we go forward in 2017.

One idea is to establish an Event Calendar for all state and local Scottish-related cultural groups. Suggest a name for the calendar, and the winner will receive two 1-day tickets to the March 4/5 Phoenix Scottish Games. Send your suggestions by January 27th to president@arizonascots.com   

Send your event information to newsletter@arizonascots.com   The deadline is 3 days before month-end.

Don Finch January 1st is not only the day after Hogmanay (want to learn more?) It also marks the count-down to the 53rd Phoenix Scottish Games. The new date is the weekend of March 4th and 5th, 2017. Check our website for details on the championships, competitions and entertainers and vendors.

Best wishes to all our Members and Friends for a healthy and happy 2017!

Don Finch, Editor

The Year in Review - 2016

2016 part 1

2016 part 2

2016 part 3

2016 part 4

Research Your Scottish Ancestry

Vital Records: Birth, Death, Marriage

Robert Wilbanksby Robert M. Wilbanks IV, B.A.
Chief Genealogist & Historian, C.S.A.

In the last article, I explained about census records, a significant type of record in genealogical research. Overall, they help locate where the family was living in a specific year, and every ten years the family can be followed. They also provide a wealth of information, both direct and implied, such as who the children or parents were, dates and places of births, marriages and deaths, occupation, year of immigration, naturalization, and much more.

Another type of record is the records that track births, marriages and deaths; better known as vital records. As some of the core foundational records for genealogy, vital records are the most obvious for genealogical research.

They provide a wealth of individual and family data, specifically with the detailed facts often sought. However, these records can be complicated with regard to existence, availability, accessibility, and content; sometimes the information can be not entirely accurate.

If city, county, state or country is unknown, then the census records are your first best source to locate where the family was living, and thus determine where to begin your research for vital records. Also, with ages, places of birth, and/or number of years married provided in the census, it will be easier to narrow down the time frame to search for these vital records; this will be most helpful in cases where there are no indexes, or the indexes are created annually.

While vital records are clearly the most substantial type of record in genealogical research, the problem is that birth, marriage and death certificates are primarily unique to the 20th (and 21st) century. Vital records may have been kept at earlier times in varying formats, dependent upon differing state requirements, but they often can be rare or few and far between before 1900. Some cities, counties and states may have required births, marriages and deaths to be kept long before 1900. This will vary greatly. For example, the townships in New England began keeping such records in the early 1600s. Virginia has some scattered records in the 1700s, but began to require registration in 1853. However, many Virginia counties lost these records to destruction in the Civil War. The Carolinas have no form of vital records before 1912, while some of the Midwestern states began to keep vital records in the 1850s. Most states did not initiate required registration of births, deaths and marriages until about 1912; and it took a while for society to become accustomed to this new requirement. However, these 20th century records can still provide you with information of an individual back to the mid-1800s.

In America, vital records can be obtained from City Hall, the County Courthouse, or the State’s Department of Health, Vital Records Department. However, “The Right to Privacy Act” of 1974 can limit what records are available; the usual limit is within the last 50 years for death certificates and 75 years for birth certificates. This will vary from city to city, county to county, and state to state. With research, you can determine the specifics for the city, county or state of interest.

Meanwhile, many of the historic vital records from the 1600s and 1700s are available in books at genealogy libraries, or in some cases these historic records can be found at the State’s Library or Archives. Many records from the 1800s are on microfilm and available from the Family History Library (now FamilySearch Library) in Salt Lake City through your local Family History Center. Some may be available online directly from official state government websites, or free or subscription sites such as FamilySearch (familysearch.org), MyHeritage (myheritage.com), FindMyPast (findmypast.com), and more.

Books like, The Handy Book for Genealogists, by the Everton Publishers, or Red Book: American State, County and Town Sources, by Ancestry (now available digitally on the Ancestry Wiki), provides a state by state and county by county overview of existing vital records, as well as other state and county information. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, through the CDC, now has a website (www.cdc.gov/nchs/w2w) of Where to Write for Vital Records, which is a state by state list with dates the records began, the types of records kept, the cost of certified or uncertified copies, and the address of where to write. Another website known as USGenWeb (usgenweb.com) has state by state and county by county pages of existing and available resources.

There are unofficial indexes for United States vital records, but they are inconsistent, and possibly incomplete. They usually can be found, separated by state, on websites such as Ancestry and FamilySearch.

Meanwhile, many British and European countries officially began keeping vital records nationally in the 19th century. England officially began to register births, deaths and marriages in 1836. Soon other nations of the British Empire began to follow suit. Ireland began in 1845 for Protestants, and 1864 for Catholics. Civil birth, marriage and death registrations began in Scotland on January 1, 1855 and are known as the Statutory Registers. Registrars were appointed for every parish in Scotland. A copy of the register was kept in the Parish, and another copy was sent to the General Register Office (GRO) in Edinburgh.

Prior to 2002, Scotland’s vital records were only available on microfilm for 1855 to 1875, all of which is still currently available through the FamilySearch Library. However in 2002, the website Scotland’s People (www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk) went online and forever changed the method of locating and obtaining these records.

Just like the census records, access to Scotland’s vital records are limited, worldwide, to the one online site known as Scotland’s People, an official Scottish Government website, by the GRO, for searching a wide variety of Scotland’s government records and archives. It is managed, uniquely, as a Pay-per-View site. [The following information is not recently verified and subject to change: The minimum fee of £7 GBP (about $11 US) gives you access to the database for 90 days and gives you 30 page credits with which you view search results and documents (1 credit per page of search results viewed and 5 credits per document viewed).]

Images and indexes are as follows on Scotland’s People: birth, 1855-1910; marriages, 1855-1935; deaths, 1855-1960. Indexes for Scotland’s vital records might also be found on a variety of other websites such as FamilySearch, MyHeritage, FindMyPast, and more. However, these sites may not be complete, being limited with specific parishes.

As well as varying in existence from city to county to state and to country, the kind and amount of information recorded in vital records will also vary. Regardless, they will always provide more, and helpful information and clues for further research. Because of this varying existence and the amount of information, other records are required in the family history research process. These include church records, cemetery records, wills and probate records, deeds and other land and property records, court records, newspapers, military records, ships passenger lists, and immigration records, just to name a few.

This is the fifth of a series of articles in which I show you the basics of searching for your family history, discussing the use of family records, public records, and online resources nationally and internationally, etc. The previous articles are now available on the new Genealogy Section of this website.   See “Genealogy” in the menu options at the top of the web page.

Two Famous Scottish Castles
by Jo Ramsdell

Urquhart Castle  (urk’at’)

Urquhart Castle is one of the largest castles and strongholds of Medieval Scotland and has a long and bloody history.  It sits perched on a rocky peninsula high above and on the very edge of Loch Ness, a setting strategicalley placed in terms of defense.  

Old Urquhart Castle
Artist's Conception: Alex Ross

Excavations have provided evidence of settlements on this area going back to as early as 2000 BC and it seems that during the 6th or 7th century a simple fort may have existed at the location of the present castle.  However, the first records of the stone castle indicate it existed in the early 13th century.  It gained the title of a “Royal Castle” and was used by Kings of both Scotland and England—King Edward I of England occupied it in 1296, King David II of Scotland stayed there in 1342.

Urquhart tower As with so many Scotland castles, Urquhart was at the center of a tug-of-war between the English and Scottish, in this instance lasting from the 14th century to the 17th century.  This castle has a very active military history and was also fought over by the Crown, the Clan Donald and the Grant family.  After several turbulent centuries, the castle was abandoned in the early 1600’s and was nothing more than ruins by the end of that century. 

After the castle fell into ruins at the end of the 17th century, locals used the rocks to build and repair their own homes.  In the early 18th century, a strong storm blew down the south-west side of the Tower House.

Urquhart ruiuns
Photo: Mark Pelletier

In 1884 the castle came under the control of Caroline, Dowager Countess of Seafield,  widow of the 7th Earle of Seafield.  Upon her death in 1911 her will instructed that Urquart Castle be entrusted into state care and in 1913 responsibility for the castle was transferred to the Commissioners of His Majesty’s Work and Public Buildings, now called Historic Scotland which continues to maintain the castle ruin.

Eilean Donan Castle       

The  name of the Eilean Donan Castle comes from the Gaelic meaning “Island of Donan” (Eilean being Island and the Donan believed to be named after the 6th century Irish Saint, Bishop Donan who was in Scotland during the later part of the 6th century).  It is set on a small rocky island at the point where three great lochs (Loch Alsh, Loch Duich and Loch Long) meet and may well be the most photographed castle in the country.    Although there are indications that a Pictish fortress existed at this location during the 6th or 7th centuries, the Medieval castle was built in the 13th century for Alexander II.  It was originally built as a defense against the Vikings who repeatedly raided the north of Scotland during these times.    Over the centuries this castle changed in size and shape, being build, destroyed, rebuilt and renovated several times with at least four different versions.  Sadly, during the Jacobite uprisings of the 17th and 18th centuries the castle was destroyed and lay in ruins for almost 200 years. 

Eilean Donan
Photo: Mark Pelletier

In the early 20th century, members of the MacRae clan (this is now the ancestral seat of the MacRae clan) decided to restore the castle to its former glory and the results of their hard work are what is now seen.  The castle was rebuilt according to surviving plans of the original castle and legend has it, according to a dream that came to Farquhar MacRae in which he saw exactly how the castle had looked during its earliest times.

This Scottish castle has appeared in many popular movies over the years including—The Master of Ballantrae (with Errol Flynn in the 1950s); Elizabeth The Golden Age (with Cate Blanchett in 2007); Highlander (with Sean Connery in 1984); Loch Ness (with Ted Danson in 1995); The World is Not Enough (with Pierce Bronsan as James Bond in 1999).

A unique feature of Eilean Donan Castle is that it is one of the only castles to have a left-handed spiral staircase. This gives an advantage to left-handed swordsmen, and is only found in castles built by families with a strong trait of left-handedness.

Association of Scottish Games and Festivals Meeting
By Paul Bell, VP Highland Games

Paul BellThis past November I spent a weekend in San Antonio, TX for the annual general meeting of the Association of Scottish Games and Festivals. The ASGF is a group that brings together people from all over the country to discuss ways to help us grow our festivals and games.

The highlight of this year’s event (aside from the great San Antonio food) was the breakout of a new program presented by David Olivares from Kaliff Insurance (who provides our Society coverage for the Games and meetings). It is an online test for anyone who will be driving a golf cart at our Games will be needing to take! Kaliff will compile the results and send them to me as the Games V.P.

We also had Todd Cartner from the Myrtle Beach, South Carolina Games tell us about his efforts to start up a Highland Games and growing it with the help of the ASGF. He talked about marketing his event to help it grow several times over in just two years.

It was a very informative two days. There was a lot of interaction within the group sharing information and experiences. We also discussed the athletic events and the fact that there are several variations in the rules between events and it will take a lot of work to get the various games across the country to agree on a single set of rules.

Grape Arizona Wine Event Moves to Heritage Square

Grape Arizona event

Society Board member Thom von Hapsburg invites you to sample sixteen Arizona wineries, and more than 10 culinary partners, who are participating in the 7th annual Grape Arizona Wine Event, benefitting Phoenix Rotary Club Charities Youth Programs. The event will take place Sunday, Jan. 29 from 1:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m. at Heritage Square in downtown Phoenix. 

“This is a great opportunity for wine lovers to taste the best of what Arizona wineries have to offer — all in one place, while supporting a great cause,” says Barbara Katz, the event’s chairperson.

Tickets are on sale now for $65 per person. Admission includes 20 wine tasting tickets, bites and dishes from some of Arizona’s best food from culinary partners, a silent auction, a raffle featuring fabulous themed prizes worth thousands of dollars, and wine-related vendors.  Wine will also be sold by the glass or bottle.

This year’s wineries include:

Caduceus Cellars Passion Cellars
Carlson Creek Vineyards Pierce Wines Arizona
Chateau Tumbleweed Pillsbury Wine Company
Dektown Cellars Rune Wines - this year’s Debut Winery
Kief-Joshua Vineyards Sand-Reckoner Vineyards
LDV Winery Sierra Bonita Vineyards
Oak Creek Vineyards & Winery Wilhelm Family Vineyards
Page Spring Cellars Zarpara Vineyard and Winery

For more information and to purchase tickets today, visit www.grapearizonawineevent.com 

COMING EVENTS and Highland Games in Arizona and Nearby
Games Calendar compiled by Clan Campbell Society NA

January 2017 No Gathering at the ICC in January
February 18-19 Queen Mary Scotsfestival & HG - Long Beach CA
March 4-5 PHOENIX SCOTTISH GAMES - our new name!
March 10-12 Sonora Celtic Faire - Sonora CA

Odds and Sods

The Scotsman The Scotsman

Hilarious tweet about bagpiper
and penguin goes viral

White Christmas guaranteed for
Scot living in the Antarctic


State and Valley Happenings

January 11 Scott Jeffers, Dubliner Pub, 7 PM
January 20 de Mairt Ceol Band, Ceilidh at the ICC , 6:45 PM
January 21 Phoenix Branch, Royal Scottish Country Dance Society
Burns Supper, Mesa Women's Club, 6 PM
- Adult $10, Family $20, light buffet & Country Dancing
January 21 Fuil Celtic Burns Night, Dubliner Pub , 6 PM
- No cover charge, order from menu, see above
January 21 Scott Jeffers, Mesa Market Place Swap Meet, 9 AM - 3 PM
January 28 Tucson Celtic Burns Night, $80 pp, Details
February 4 Flagstaff Burns Supper, $45 pp, Details
March 17 Mesa Caledonian Pipe Band, 6:30 PM, Padre Murphy's Pub
March 19 Mesa Caledonian, 10 AM Service, St. Mark's Episcopal

Membership Renewal Reminder

Dues are still only $25 Single and $40 Family. This admits you to all our wonderful monthly events with food and entertainment provided. Payments received in November or December of 2016 include full year membership for 2017.

It’s easy to pay by credit card at our On-Line Shopping Cart - just jump to the Membership Page

Society Gatherings
Regular membership gatherings are usually held the second Thursday of each month at the Irish Cultural Center, 1106 N. Central Ave., Phoenix, AZ. beginning at 6:30 pm. Please check our website for further details.

Caledonian Society Officers
President: Don Finch
Immediate Past President: Mark Clark
Past President: (2010 – 2012) Jean Latimer
Vice President Administration: Mark Pelletier
Vice President Games: Paul Bell
Vice President Membership : David McBee
Secretary Ginni Caldwell
Treasurer: Vicki Phegley
Trustee 1: Ian Warrander
Trustee 2: Thom von Hapsburg
Trustee 3: Dan Miller
Newsletter Editor:

Don Finch
Statutory Agent: Dan Miller
Chief Genealogist & Historian: Robert Wilbanks

A Word from our Advertisers

Kilt Rental USA

Len Wood
Bagpiper USB

Lois Wallace


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