May 2019         Title    Past Issues

In this Issue:

  May Society Events   Tartan Day at the Library
  President's Letter   Kevin Conquest at the Tattoo
  Genealogy Workshop in June   Sound of the Somme - Movie
  Service in the Boer War   Snippets from Scotland
  Scotland's Hidden Gems   Coming Events - Valley & Nearby
  Research Your Scottish Ancestry   A Word from our Advertisers  

Pint and a Pour - May 18

Our May monthly gathering is set to be a boozy affair – at least boozy with a touch of appreciation thrown in.

The Society is hosting Pint and a Pour, a beer and liquor tasting event at two adjacent breweries in Tempe. The event, on Saturday 18 May, starts at 2pm at Sleepy Dog Brewing at 1920 East University Drive, suite 104. After a tasting session there, the party will move next door to the Caskwerks Distilling Company to sample some top-quality liquor.

The Sleepy Dog Brewery specializes in craft beer and Society members can sample a flight of four beers or a favorite of their own. Craftwerk is known for its handcrafted spirits and we will be taken on a tour of the facility on the day.

Tickets cost $17.50 and must be purchased in advance - below. Complimentary snacks will be served in the brewery tap room, known as the ‘Dog House’. We are limited to 60 people, so the trip is first come first served.

Pint and a Pour And remember, if you drink, please don’t drive.

There are plenty transport options including light rail, Yellow Cab, Discount Cab, Uber and Lyft.

Or appoint a designated driver.

Purchase Tickets

Print the flyer

Sleepy Dog Brewing"

Peaks Celtic Ensemble - May 19

After our beer and liquor event on 18 May, what better way to clear our heads than an afternoon of Celtic music with our Welsh cousins the following day.

Welsh LeagueThe CSA is joining with the Welsh League on May 19 for a show by the Peaks Celtic Ensemble who will perform music from Scotland, Ireland and Wales.

The event starts at 2.30 pm at Shepherd of the Hills United Church of Christ, 5524 East Lafayette Boulevard, Phoenix (west of 56th Street).

Admission will be by donations which will go towards providing bursaries for Arizona and Welsh exchange students.

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President's Letter
Don Finch, Past President

President David McBee asked if I could provide an update as he’s working on several other Society initiatives.

With the planned departure of our Treasurer at the end of April, David is finalizing our financial reports. Even with several late invoices and check requests, it looks like the Phoenix Scottish Games was both an economic and attendance success. Thanks to Games Chieftain Paul Bell and his team for producing another terrific event.

When the 55th Annual Games came to a close, we began looking to replace several key positions that had been staffed by long-time Area Chairs who would like some time off.

  • Athletic Director – Michelle Crownhart has grown our Games to one of the country’s premier highland athletics events, and now wants to pursue her own competition and judging opportunities. She has offered to assist a new A.D. to get started.
  • Clans Chair – Mark Pelletier is stepping down after 12 years of running the Clans Area, and he too will assist his replacement with the 2020 planning process
  • Pipe Band Chair – Alasdair Martin has accepted a job transfer to the east coast. Being an active or recently retired member of a Pipe & Drum band is a prerequisite.

The Society is also looking to fill the following positions:

  • Treasurer – Vicki Munro Phegley advised the Board last fall that she would step down following this year’s Games. We’re actively looking for a volunteer that has accounting or book-keeping experience, and is familiar with ‘QuickBooks for Nonprofits’.
  • Social Committee Chair(s) – the perfect job for two people to work as co-chairs on our regular Gatherings, and special events such as the Burns Supper, and Tartan Day

For all these open positions - please contact David McBee if you, or someone you know is interested:

We are delighted that so many newcomers joined the Caledonian Society during the Games weekend, and hope you may be interested in volunteering for these open positions (above).


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Genealogy Workshop - June 13

Do you get off the Internet and actually do genealogy research at a Library or Archives? Did you know you can? If you do, do you walk in the door dazed and confused? Getting lost and don’t know where to begin?

Robert M. Wilbanks lV, our chief genealogist, will be the presenter at the June Gathering -Thursday June 13 - at the Irish Cultural Center, 1106 N Central, Phoenix.

His talk, aptly enough, is entitled ‘Understanding Research Facilities: Genealogy Research Anywhere’. Not every historical record is on the Internet. His presentation includes the various types of repositories and research facilities that are beneficial to Genealogists, including how they store, organization and make resources available to researchers. This presentation will empower you to do better and more efficient and effective Genealogy research almost anywhere.

Robert will be using a live screen with a PowerPoint and live access to the internet, so feel free to bring along your own wi-fi device to help you explore your family background. He also has prepared a handout for the presentation, which you can download.

6.30 - Social Half Hour (Bar opens)
7:00 -Genealogy Workshop
8:30 -Raffle and Adjourn

Society meetings are open to everyone. Members are free, and non-members are welcome at a charge o $10.00

Service in the Boer War

William GrahamHow’s this for smart picture of a kilted Scottish soldier about to march off to war?

It was brought to the genealogy tent at the Scottish Games last year by Phoenix resident John Seeliger who explained it was of his grandfather and taken around 1900.

The soldier is Second Lieutenant William Arthur Graham resplendent in the uniform of his regiment the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. The photograph was taken in Edinburgh just as he was departing Scotland to fight in the Boer War in South Africa.

Officers in the Argylls wore badger sporrans with six tassels. Known as a full mask sporran, it was one of the most distinctive and impressive in the British Army at the time.

Graham’s rank was signified by the ‘single pip’ button at the bottom of each sleeve.

The glengarry bonnet in his hand has red and white dicing, another feature of the Argylls uniform. Officers also carried a cane.

Graham, who was from Glasgow, settled in South Africa after the war. He had been an ironmonger’s assistant in his native land and went on to establish a highly successful business in Cape Town, becoming a hardware and building materials merchant.

His wife Annie McKelvie, who was pregnant when he marched off to war, joined him in South Africa. John was brought up in Johannesburg and now lives in Phoenix. He recently joined the Society and is mighty proud of his Caledonian heritage.

Scotland's Hidden Gems - Culross
Iain Lundy

The Fife village of Culross (pronounced Coo-Ross) sits on the north bank of the Firth of Forth and looks on the face of it to be nothing more than a jumble of badly painted, albeit very old, houses. But as with most places in Scotland, it pays to stop and take a closer look.


Far from being a disorderly collection of houses, the village has a distinctly quaint and historic feel to it. Add to that its connections to Scottish royalty, and Culross becomes a place well worth a visit. Then, once you get there, you’ll recognize it as one of the filming locations for Outlander.

Culross has been described as a ‘16th century time capsule – a village frozen in time’. It contains a royal palace dating to the late 16th century; the Town House, built in 1626; the remains of a Cistercian Abbey;  and old cobbled streets with an impressive Mercat Cross.

Culross PalaceThe 1597 palace is easily recognizable. When the National Trust for Scotland began to preserve and restore the old buildings in the 1930s, it decided to repaint the palace its original mustard color.

A walk around the narrow streets and lanes of Culross will give you an idea of what a 16th century Scottish village was like.

The old streets keep their original names – including Stinking Wynd.

There is ample parking at Culross and good views across the Firth of Forth. If you fancy a meal, there are several good quality cafes. And there is a very helpful Tourist Information Center.

Culross might be off the beaten track, and in a distinctly industrial part of the country. It has its own industrial heritage, salt-panning and coal mining. But it is well worth making a special trip, stepping back in time, and spending an hour or two soaking in the atmosphere of a unique Scottish community.

And if you are an Outlander fan, the palace and the old Mercat Cross might just be familiar.

Culross Mercat Cross

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Research Your Scottish Ancestry

RObert WilbanksHistoric Records Repositories

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

In this column I’ve discussed a variety of topics related to more successful genealogy research, whether it was general record types, specific records, research strategies, network, and much more. Where possible, I incorporated specific locations, repositories, where these records are or may be found. Here, I will explain in general terms, various types of facilities and repositories where research can, and most likely should, be conducted.

Research facilities, or records repositories, come in a very large variety of types depending on a wide array of factors, such as record types, government entities involved, jurisdictions, private organizations, and much more. Any and all of these have the potential to be a good genealogy resource.

First, lets remember that records themselves can come in two basic types. First, there are Private Records. Records relative to private enterprise, organizations, and various other non-governmental bodies. Second, there are Public Records. These are records almost entirely created by various government agencies, departments, etc. These two types of entities, naturally, will create not only their own kinds of records, but their own repositories for those records. So, knowing if a record is private or public can determine whether the repository, or research facility, will be private or public.

Meanwhile, the type of repositories, or research facilities, created can also be varied. Generally, there are three key types of repositories or research facilities. The first are Libraries. A facility most notable for primarily housing books, though maps, music, and other collections exist in libraries. The second are Records Offices. Facilities for holding, conserving, and organizing records, usually more current in nature. The third are Archives, a repository for the storage and organizing of more historic records; usually over 75 or 100 years old.

Public libraries are most understood for the city, county, or the state where they are located, and the governmental agency that maintains it. Examples would be the City of Phoenix, or Chicago, New York, etc., Pima County (Az) Library and even the Library of Congress, maintained by the United States Government. For most people, private libraries are lesser known or understood. Some examples would be the LDS Genealogy Library in Salt Lake City (with their Centers all around the world), the West Valley (Sun City, Az) Genealogical Society Library, or any locality Historical Society Library, or the Daughters of the American Revolution Library in Washington D.C.

Public Records Offices, again, are simpler to understand. Usually a government facility maintained by city, county, state, and even federal agencies, etc., such as the Arizona Department of Health, or the U.S. Bureau of Consular Affairs. Private Records Offices are lesser known, and even determining their existence could require research. Often these would be associated with churches, or fraternal organizations, business or financial enterprises, etc.
Lastly, Archives, yet again, can be understood with relation to government jurisdictions and agencies. While the National Archives or a State Archives are most common, there are potentially unique locality Archives, such as the Philadelphia City Archives or the Westchester County (NY) Archives.  As for Private Archives, examples would be the Coca-Cola Archives, the Railroad History Archives for New England, and the Archives of the American Baptist Historical Society in Atlanta. Most Colleges and Universities have their own Institutional Archives.

Be sure to attend the June Meeting of the Caledonian Society of Arizona at the Irish Cultural Center where I will give an in-depth presentation on records repositories, research facilities, how to find them, how to utilized them, and more, for Genealogy Research.

This is another 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 Genealogy Section of this website.   See “Genealogy” in the menu options at the top of the web page.

Tartan Day Library Event

The Scotfest event which the Society helped stage at Chandler Library on April 6 (Tartan Day) proved highly popular, with a host of talks and sessions put on by CSA members.

Visitors were attracted to talks on whisky (not whiskey); the film locations for the Outlander series; and a history of the Scottish clans, as well as genealogy sessions and Highland Dancing displays.

Other participants included the Daughters of Scotia; SAMS (Scottish-American Military Society); Arizona Highland Dancing Association; and Fuil Celtic

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Kevin Conquest to Play at the Edinburgh Royal Military Tattoo

‘Over the moon, and it hasn’t fully sunk in yet.’ That’s the reaction of Phoenix-based drum major and CSA member Kevin Conquest to the news he’s been chosen to play at the Royal Military Tattoo in Edinburgh this summer.

Kevin, a Society Trustee and Drum Major of the Mesa Caledonian Pipe Band, will spend five weeks in Scotland from late July onwards preparing for, and participating in, the event, one of the most anticipated in the Scottish calendar. It takes place on the esplanade of Edinburgh Castle and is part of the annual Edinburgh Festival.

Even a week after hearing the news that he’d been chosen to perform, Kevin is still struggling to take it in. “It had always been a semi-impossible dream. The Tattoo is THE biggest musical attraction in Scotland’s modern era. As a kid I used videotapes of the Tattoo to learn drum majoring before I had a teacher.”

“Needless to say, the dream of being involved certainly took form. They do have opportunities for international acts to perform but it is first and foremost a British Army musical showcase. Opportunities for pipe bands outside the regiments tend to be rare. Did I think I could ever be involved? No, it really was a daydream until recently.

Kevin ConquestKevin, who has been involved with pipe bands since 1994, heard of a program called Pipers Trail that offered pipers and drummers the world over to take part in the Tattoo as part of an in-house pipe band with an international focus.

”The Tattoo is a serious time commitment. A few friends of mine auditioned for 2017 and made it. Their successes encouraged me to go for it. I auditioned for 2018 and didn’t make the cut. There were reportedly 30 drum major auditions and two spots available for 2018. I practiced harder and tried again for this year. Success.”

The Society is proud to have a representative at one of Scotland’s biggest showcase events of the year and wishes Kevin all the best.


"Sound of the Somme" Movie

Sound of the SommeA Kickstarter appeal has been launched to help fund a short movie about a young Scottish piper who was killed during the First World War. The film Sound of the Somme is the story of James Richardson, a Scot who settled in Canada, and who was killed in October 1916 while retrieving a set of bagpipes from the area known as No Man’s Land.

He was a 20 year old, originally from Bellshill, Lanarkshire, who had settled with his family in Chilliwack, British Columbia. As a piper with the 72nd Seaforth Highlanders of Canada, he had seen duty at the Battle of Ypres before being detailed to the Somme.

The Kickstarter fund will help fund the costs of making the movie including special effects and visual effects, and Scots throughout the world with an interest in the subject are being asked to contribute.

Image courtesy of Alexander Menu - Writer, Producer, Kickstarter Campaign

The website is

Snippets from Scotland

The Scotsman

Congratulations to Captain Alwyne Farquharson, Chief of the Clan Farquharson, on reaching his 100th birthday. He’s thought to be the oldest clan chief and clearly enjoys a regular glass of whisky to keep him fit and healthy.


A historic religious site dating to the mid-1700s is to be given a new lease of life with help from a Scottish National Park authority.

STV News

Avengers: Endgame is the latest blockbuster movie to be filmed partly in Scotland. Scenes from the film were shot in the Berwickshire village of St Abbs. And the director reckons a future Star Wars movie could well be made in Scotland.

COMING EVENTS and Highland Games in Arizona and Nearby

May 4-5 Rio Grande Valley Celtic Festival
Bernalillo (Albuquerque) NM
May 18 Pint and a Pour
Sleepy Dog Brewing, Tempe
May 19 Peaks Celtic Ensemble
Shepard of the Hills Church, Phoenix
May 25-26 Orange County Scottish Fest
Costa Mesa CA
June 13 Society's Genealogy Workshop
ICC, Phoenix
June 22-23 San Diego Highand Games
Vista CA
March 7-8, 2020 56th Annual Phoenix Scottish Games
Steele Indian School Park, Phoenix

Membership Reminder

Membership dues for 2019 are:
- - $30.00 single and $50.00 Family (at the same address)

It's easy - just jump to the Membership Page for information.

Society Gatherings
Membership gatherings are often held on the second Thursday of each month, many at the Irish Cultural Center, 1106 N. Central Ave., Phoenix - others around the Valley - usually beginning at 6:30 pm. Please check our website for further details.

A Word from our Advertisers

Kilt Rental USA

Len Wood
Bagpiper USB

Lois Wallace


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