October 2019         Title    Past Issues

In this Issue:

  October Event   Lochiel Brewing Event
  President's Letter   2020 Games Planning
  Alan Ramsdell, 1938-2019   Snippets from Scotland
  Scotland's Hidden Gems   Coming Events - Valley & Nearby
  Research Your Scottish Ancestry   A Word from our Advertisers  

Scots-toberfest - Thursday, October 10

Haus Murphy Restaurant, 5739 W. Glendale Ave., Glendale

Haus Murphy Haus Murphy

October can mean only one thing in the CSA calendar – our annual ScotstoberFest event at Haus Murphy German restaurant in Glendale.

Over the years the evening, a Scottish/German fusion event, has developed into one of the most popular nights of the Society's year.  Join us for an evening of good food and good friends.

The food is first class (order from the menu on your own) and, as always, there will be a short presentation on the state of the Society and the plans for the Scottish games in March.

Please email Mark Pelletier by October 8 with a count of how many people will be attending so we can advise the Haus.

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President's Letter
David McBee, President

Several vacancies still exist for positions both on the CSA board, and for the annual Scottish Games, due to be held in March next year. Obviously with Games planning already under way, it is becoming more imperative than ever that people come forward to fill them.

We are still without a treasurer; a social convener or conveners to organize regular events; and a Games area chair for the Clans section.

David McBee

Anyone interested in filling these positions should contact me at president@arizonascots.com

or Don Finch at vpmembership@arizonascots.com



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Alan Ramsdell, 1938-2019

The Society was saddened last month to learn of the passing of Alan Ramsdell, who served two terms as President. Alan, who was 80, and his wife Mary Jo, were stalwart members of the CSA for many years. Immediate Past President Don Finch put together this tribute to Alan.

Alan RamsdellAlan Ramsdell came into this world on September 11, 1938, in Boston, Massachusetts, in the midst of the last unnamed hurricane. He left this world on September 9, 2019, with his wife of 57 years by his side holding his hand. His life has been rich with family and an untold number of friends.

Alan attended Brookline High School, Brookline, Mass, Alderson-Broaddus College in West Virginia, Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, and received his Masters’ degree from Arizona State University.

In 1960 he was drafted into the US Army and stationed at Fort Ord, near Monterey, California. While there he met the love of his life, Mary Jo. They were married in June 1962. In 1964, after being discharged from the Army, they moved to Mesa, Arizona, where Alan began a career as a social worker for the State of Arizona, first in child protection services for 20 years and then as the supervisor of all the buildings and vehicles in Maricopa County. He retired in 1991.

In the early 1970s, Alan and others were instrumental in helping the City of Mesa establish a Salvation Army citadel. He became a member of the Salvation Army Advisory Board and remained on the Board until his death. Alan was also an active member of the Rotary Club until his recent poor health prevented him attending.

For many years Alan was an active and leading member of the Caledonian Society of Arizona, where he enjoyed the fellowship of fellow Scots and celebrated their Scottish heritage. He served as President for two terms and helped establish the annual Scottish Highland Games in Phoenix. He always wore his Clan Gordon kilt with pride.

Alan and Mary Jo were both very musical and were blessed with wonderful voices. In the mid-1980s they were members of the Sun Valley Chorale, a group of trained singers based at Mesa Community College. In 1989 the group went on a six-week performance tour of Europe which culminated in a week in Scotland.

It was this visit to Caledonia that piqued Alan’s interest in his Scottish heritage – his mother’s maiden name was MacDonald and there was a connection to the Gordon line on his father’s side. Upon returning home they sought out other Scots in the Valley and were directed to the Highland Games, at that time being held at Brophy Prep High School’s athletic field in Central Phoenix.

Alan and Mary Jo were hooked, and that led to 20+ years of service to the Society including almost all the area chair positions at the Games, organizing Burns Suppers and other social events, two terms as President, followed by many years of service on the Board as a Trustee.

Alan leaves behind his wife Mary Jo; a special niece Margaret Lucey, of Newburyport, Massachusetts, and her husband Fred; a wonderful sister-in-law Penny Ramsdell, of Baton Rouge, Louisiana; very special friends Francis and Carol Anne Venturelli of Sacramento, California; Steve and Gail Wylie, of Mesa, Arizona, and many other friends.

A memorial service will be held on Sunday 6 October at 2 pm at the Salvation Army Citadel Chapel,241 East 6th Street, Mesa.

Scotland's Hidden Gems - Mount Stuart House
Iain Lundy

Scotland is awash with spectacular castles and stately homes, all of which come complete with centuries of history. And if you’re looking for spectacular and stately rolled into one, you should look no further than Mount Stuart House, ancient seat of the Stuarts of Bute, descendants of Robert the Bruce.

Mount Stuart House

The striking mansion sits in 300 acres of immaculately-kept gardens on the Isle of Bute overlooking the Firth of Clyde. It is a stunning setting and the architecture of the building, both inside and out, is truly outstanding.

The original house was built in 1719 but severely damaged by a major fire in 1877. The contents and the wings survived and form the basis of the Gothic Revival style building that exists today. Its claims to fame are that it contains the world’s first heated pool, and was the first house in Scotland to be fully lit by electricity.

Quite apart from the home’s spectacular exterior, a tour of the rooms is a must. From the drawing room to the ornate Horoscope Room dedicated to astrology and with artworks of every sign of the zodiac, the   experience is jaw-dropping.

Mount Staurt Drawing RoomHistory is everywhere and one of the early occupants of the house, John Stuart, 3rd Earl of Bute, was the first Scot to serve as Prime Minister of Great Britain, although his time as Premier was riddled with controversy and he became a divisive figure.

To reach Mount Stuart House, you need to catch a ferry across the Firth of Clyde from Wemyss Bay to Rothesay. The journey time is approximately 35 minutes and a bus will take you from the pierhead to the house.

Research Your Scottish Ancestry

Robert WilbanksU.S. Genealogy Libraries : Wealth of Resources

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

The internet has become an exciting and beneficial resource for conducting genealogy research. However, the fact is the internet barely touches the tip of the iceberg when it comes to locating resources and information in the pursuit of family history. The greatest amount of genealogy information still can only be found in hardcopy in a variety of repositories, as discussed in previous articles, such as archives, court houses and public records office. However, in addition to archives and courthouses, many private and public libraries provide a great wealth of genealogy resources.

The United States has hundreds of specialty library collections for genealogy research from coast to coast. Most small city and county public libraries have “local history” collections and research rooms with genealogy resources. However, there exists a large number of U.S. libraries with vast amounts of resources for genealogy and local history. Here is a short listing of just a few of the most notable libraries in the U.S. with vast genealogy collections:

The Family History Library in Salt Lake City is the world’s largest genealogical library, with hundreds of branch libraries all over the world. This private library is open to visitors for free. The collection consists of over 1.4 million rolls of microfilm, 600,000 books, serials and maps, the library has 550 computers and 200 microfilm and microfiche readers to research. 45 staff and 550 volunteers can help you with your research, with classes on various subjects every day.

The United States Library of Congress, in Washington D.C., has a dedicated Local History & Genealogy Reference Services with a research/reading room just for genealogists. It has one of the world's premier collections of U.S. and foreign genealogical and local historical publications. The Library's genealogy collection began as early as 1815 with the purchase of Thomas Jefferson's library, and now has over 50,000 published genealogies and 100,000 local histories.

Since its founding in 1896, the Library of the Daughters of the American Revolution, Washington D.C., has grown into a specialized collection of American genealogical and historical manuscripts and publications, as well as powerful on-site databases. The DAR Library collection contains over 225,000 books, 10,000 research files, thousands of manuscript items, and special collections of African American, Native American, and women’s history, genealogy and culture. Nearly 40,000 family histories and genealogies comprise a major portion of the book collection, many of which are unique or available in only a few libraries in the country.

The Library of the New England Historic Genealogical Society in Boston is one of the nation’s leading research centers for genealogists. It houses millions of documents, manuscripts, records, books, microfilms, photographs, artifacts, electronic resources, and other items that preserve history. There extensive website will help you get the most out of your library visit.

The Genealogy Center of the Allen County Public Library, Fort Wayne, Indiana, is nationally recognized. It is a very unique and valuable resource for the genealogical community nationwide. They have one of the largest research collections available, with records from around the world. The Library staff specializes in genealogy and are very helpful.

The Dallas Public Library Genealogy Section, Dallas, Texas, contains one of the largest and most comprehensive collections for family history research in the Southwest. Over 50,000 individuals visit annually, with many from out of the state. The collection includes all states and counties of the U.S. Many foreign resources are also available.

The Newberry Library, Chicago, has been collecting genealogy and local history materials since 1887. Staff at the Genealogy and Local History desk can help you explore the Newberry’s rich collections of family histories, local histories, censuses, probate, deed, court, tax, and cemetery records, military, periodicals, genealogical guides and more.

The Southern History Department of the Birmingham Public Library, Birmingham, Alabama, is a collection that covers every facet of Southern life and culture. Their collection is extensive with regard to genealogy and local history for the southeastern States. If researching Southern local, state, or regional history, arts and sciences, geography, genealogy, or folklore, you can find information here. Extensive newspaper clipping files on local and regional history can be searched for information along with periodicals and online databases. They have a notable Cartography Collection, and Rare Book Collection of early Americana.

The Clayton Library Center for Genealogical Research, Houston, Texas, is consistently named one of the best family history research libraries in the U.S. Family history research materials are available in print, microprint and online. Clayton Library has a national and international collection of records and resources. Resources available include book, microprint, and/or electronic formats. Many records are being digitized and made available through various electronic databases.

In partnership with the Orange County California Genealogical Society, the Huntington Beach (California) Central Library houses the OCCGS Genealogy Research Room. Located in Huntington Beach's beautiful Central Park, the Library is home to the Genealogy Collection maintained and developed by OCCGS. The Collection is on the lower level of the library and contains over 23,000 volumes. Open during normal library hours, it is for reference use only.

A more extensive list of genealogy libraries around the U.S. can be found at this “Directory of Genealogy Libraries in the U.S.” listing libraries by state with addresses and links to their web pages.

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.

Lochiel Brewing Event Recap

A thoroughly good time was had by all those who attended last September’s meeting – a day in the pub with excellent Scottish beer, the sound of the pipes, and of course great company.

For the second time in two years Society members congregated in Lochiel in east Mesa, Arizona’s only Scottish-themed bar, run by a man with the unmistakably Scottish name of Ian Cameron.

Lochiel Brewing event

Scots and their descendants are always at home in a convivial bar-room atmosphere and September’s Brews and Bagpipes event was no different. If the beer wasn’t enough, we were treated to a program of stirring Celtic pipe tunes by the Mesa Caledonian Pipe Band.

Money raised during the event will be divided between the Pipe Band’s Kilt Fund, and the Caledonian Society’s Scholarship Fund.

A big thanks go to the band members and to Ian Cameron for making the day go with a swing.


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2020 Phoenix Scottish Games Planning

The first planning meeting for next year’s Scottish Games in March was held last week in Rosie McCaffrey’s bar in Phoenix. The meeting was well-attended and many early arrangements were put in place.

Games Chairman Paul Bell confirmed this will be his last year as main organizer, and Mark Pelletier has stood down as Clan Chair after 2019, so anyone interested in taking on either position should get their applications in and perhaps shadow the men currently in position during the Games.

Among the arrangements already in place are the organization of the kids’ area, which is again being run by the Knights of St Andrew; the tents for the entertainment, which will once again feature the Wicked Tinkers; and sponsorship with Four Peaks Brewing Company. Welcome to Michael Leone, new Chair for Pipes and Drums

One new event being planned is a Premier Highland Dance championship, application forms for which will soon be posted online.

The Games will be held on the weekend of 7 and 8 March 2020. The date of the next planning meeting will be announced soon.

Snippets from Scotland


Forget Salem. Back in the 16th and 17th centuries Scotland was in the grip of witchcraft paranoia. Women were executed for everything from ‘bearing children without pain’ to consorting with fairies. Now a witchcraft map showing where cases took place has been put together at Edinburgh University.


The Herald

Interested in buying a piece of Scottish military history? The site of the Battle of Carbisdale, where James Graham aka the Great Montrose, suffered his final defeat, is up for sale for a cool £70,000 ($86,000).


BBC logo

Abbotsford House, the mansion once owned by author and statesman Sir Walter Scott, has lost £60,000 ($73,700) because of an extreme cold snap at the beginning of the year. The house in the Scottish Borders is visited by thousands of people each year.


COMING EVENTS and Highland Games in Arizona and Nearby

October 6, 2 PM Service for Alan Ramsdell
Salvation Army Citadel Chapel, 241 E. 6th St, Mesa.
October 10 Scots-toberfest
Haus Murphy, Glendale
November 1-3 Tucson Highland Games
Tucson AZ
November 10 RAF Cadet Memorial Service, 10:30 AM
Mesa City Cemetery
November 23 CSA St. Andrew's Day Soirée
Irish Cultural Center, Phoenix
December 14 Christmas at the Castle
Irish Cultural Center, Phoenix
March 7-8, 2020 56th Annual Phoenix Scottish Games
Steele Indian School Park, Phoenix

Membership Reminder

Membership dues for 2020 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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