February 2020     Title   Past Issues

In this Issue:

  Upcoming Events   Burns Supper 2020
  President's Letter   A Famous Scottish Woman
  Games Update   Snippets from Scotland
  Scotland's Hidden Gems   Coming Events - Valley & Nearby
  Research Your Scottish Ancestry   A Word from our Advertisers  

Upcoming Events

Phoenix Scottish Games

Phoenix Scottish Games

February Gathering

I Love You
Scots Gaelic for "I Love You"

Join us at the Irish Cultural Center for a Gathering titled "Hearts and History"
Thursday February 13, 6:30 PM - 1106 Central, Phoenix

We will continue the "History of Scotland" DVD series ("The Price of Progess"), socialize, and get an update on the March plans for the Phoenix Scottish Games.

6:30 - 7:15 - Mix and Mingle
7:15 - Scottish Games update
7:30 - DVD History Presentation

Enjoy Valentine "bakes", Coffee, Tea
No Host Bar
Members Free, Guests $10 donation

Red Hot Chili Pipers

Billed as "The most Famous Pipe Band on the Planet", RHCP will be performing in Phoenix on March 7 at the Madison Center for the Arts.

This is NOT a Society event nor is it part of our Scottish Games that weekend, however the Band and your Society have agreed to promote each other's events. Look for more information to come.

President's Letter
David McBee, President

David McBee

We will have a Society Gathering on Feb. 13th with a Valentines warm up, Games review, and a history viewing. Our March gathering will be the Games.

The Games are setting records already. Not only are we exceeding athlete enrollments of all time, but the City and Fire Dept are adding compliance items to be met. A busy time for all involved.

We have several openings on the Society’s Board including Treasurer and Secretary. If you have past experience in such roles, please consider giving your services to the Society. There are many areas needing help this year on the Games as well.

Here’s to a great Games!


March Games Update

The 2020 Scottish Games are almost upon us, and with only four weeks to go, final preparations for our showpiece annual event are well under way.

The event starts on Saturday 7 March with an opening ceremony led by the Coast Guard Auxiliary Band (AZ) who will perform the National Anthem. The Rev Ben Sellers, a Masters class athlete, will sing Flower of Scotland.

Among the highlights once again will be the appearance of the Wicked Tinkers band at the Ghillie Dhu tent. Local band Stoneybank will headline in the Learners Arms and will be joined by the Mountain View Fiddlers and the Gilbert Town Fiddlers among others.

The athletics and pipe band competitions have attracted a very high number of entrants. A massed bands performance at 5pm on Saturday promises to be one of the weekend highlights.

Three of the most popular attractions are in new hands this year. Tim Timm is the new area chair for the athletics; Michael Leone oversees the Pipe Bands competitions; and Larry and Stuart Junker have taken over the Clans section from Mark Pelletier.

Other attractions include a children’s area run by the Knights of St Andrew; the British cars section; the genealogy tent; and a host of stalls and food trucks.

Visiting the Phoenix Scottish Games for the first time ever are the musicians of the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary Arizona Band. Not many know that the Coast Guard has a wee Scottish connection through their founder Alexander Hamilton! The band will perform patriotic sets in the Learners Arms. They will also be performing Amazing Grace and Scotland The Brave with the Massed Pipes & Drums.

So, make 7 and 8 March a date at Steele Indian Park on Indian School Road.

A Games Committee Meeting is planned for Wednesday February 12 at the ICC Norton Room (downstairs), 6:30 PM

Scotland's Hidden Gems - The Commando Memorial
Iain Lundy

Commando MemorialThe Commando Memorial in the rugged west Highlands of Scotland could hardly be classed as hidden – in fact it is one of the most photographed landmarks in the country and stands imposingly a few miles from the town of Fort William.

The statue depicting three soldiers stands on a small hill overlooking the village of Spean Bridge. It is a war memorial and was completed as recently as 1951, but it is significant for the strong local connection between the army’s elite Commando unit and the local area.

During World War 2, men from Britain and other European nations were based at nearby Achnacarry Castle, home of the Clan Cameron. They spent their days training in the most grueling terrain and in all weathers. The memorial is a reminder of their wartime endeavors.

The memorial has become a major tourist attraction for those passing through the Highlands, and for old soldiers and their families wishing to pay their respects. A nearby garden of remembrance contains poignant details of Commandos who died young in their country’s service.

Spean Bridge is nine miles from Fort William and the memorial is reached by following the road to Skye. It is a busy spot and a car park has been built in recent years.

If you find yourself in that part of the world, it is a must-see attraction, not only for the striking monument, but for the incredible views across the Lochaber hills and moorland to Ben Nevis, the UK’s highest mountain, only a few miles away.

Research Your Scottish Ancestry

Robert WilbanksWest Valley Genealogical Society & Family History Society of Arizona

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

Regularly I talk about the importance of networking and continuing education. Last month I talked about several Arizona genealogy organizations, and their biggest events of the year happening in the coming months.

I’d like to elaborate more on the West Valley Genealogical Society (azwvgs.org). As the largest genealogy society in Arizona, it operates its own genealogy library with over 4000 square feet of books and more, plus access to a wide variety of subscription-based genealogy databases.

The West Valley Genealogical Society and Library had its beginning in 1972 in Sun City (metro Phoenix), Arizona. Since that year they have grown to well over 700 members, who share a common interest – researching the lives of ancestors, while archiving and preserving their legacy. They welcome all those interested in pursuing family history – from the novice to the experienced researcher.

Membership in the Society offers a multitude of vehicles for education and collaborative research. A wide variety of classes are available which offer opportunities to enhance your genealogy knowledge and research skills. Monthly meetings – September through May – feature speakers presenting topics of interest to family researchers. The Society also offers Special Interest Groups which meet at scheduled times to pursue collaborative research related to specific areas of the United States, Canada and Europe. And lastly, as a dynamic educational organization, WVGS sponsors annual trips to the world-renowned, Family History Library in Salt Lake City, and also to the National Archives, Library of Congress and DAR Library in Washington DC.

The crown jewel of WVGS is its non-circulating Genealogy Research Library (now the largest in Arizona) whose shelves hold thousands of books, hundreds of periodical titles, CDs and a one-of-a-kind map collection. A computer lab offers free access to multiple genealogical websites including Ancestry.com. This library is also recognized by the Family History Library in Salt Lake City as an ‘affiliate library’. Thus, through this library you will have access to records on FamilySearch not available from home. This facility is managed, maintained and staffed by their membership – all volunteers with a great wealth of experience and knowledge.

West Valley Gennealogical Society

Their 2020 Annual Seminar (February 15th) will feature Dr. Thomas W. Jones, an award-winning writer, board-certified genealogist, editor of the National Genealogical Society Quarterly, recipient of honors from genealogical organizations, and author of the textbooks Mastering Genealogical Proof and Mastering Genealogical Documentation. The topics at this all-day seminar are entitled: Topics Solving Problems with Original Records; Five Proven Techniques for Finding Your Ancestor’s European Origin; Systematically Using Autosomal DNA Test Results to Help Break Through Genealogical Brick Walls; Creating a Family History of Lasting Value.

Another genealogy organization in the metro Phoenix area is the Family History Society of Arizona (fhsa.org). The Family History Society of Arizona (FHSA) was established in 1983 to promote the study and worldwide research of member's family histories by instructing each member in the ethical principles and effective techniques of genealogical research, and to assist them in their preservation and dissemination of such research. With seven chapters around the valley, each meet a different day of the month with guest speakers on varying genealogy topics. They also have a Virtual Chapter that meets monthly.

Their 2020 Seminar and Annual Meeting will be March 20th and 21st featuring Maureen Taylor “The Photo Detective”, is a nationally recognized speaker and author, specializing in identifying old family photos. She will be presenting four different topics. The Special Friday Night Session features her talk entitled “Buns, Beards, Bodices, and Bustles: Understanding Ancestors Through Clothing”. Her Saturday topics are: Identifying and Dating Family Photographs; Eight Steps to Preserving Your Family Photographs; No Language Barrier: Immigrant Clues in Photographs.

I encourage you to attend either or both of these great Seminars. If I don’t see you at one of these events, I certainly expect and look forward to you visiting the Genealogy Tent at the C.S.A. 56th 2020 Annual Phoenix Scottish Games, March 7th and 8th.

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.

Genealogy volunteers are needed for the Phoenix Scottish Games
March 7 and 8. Please read this "Call for Volunteers"

Burns Suppers, 2020

Local Scots - often including Society members - celebrated the Bard at multiple recent dinners: Fuil Celtic and the Lady Claire Lodge of the Daughters of Scotia held their events in January, and the Knights of St. Andrew on February 1. Here are a few photos:

Knights of St. Andrew

Fuil Celtic Lady Claire Lodge

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A Famous Scottish Woman
Story and Image from Google

A Scottish scientist, Mary Somerville, who became a world-famous mathematician and astronomer, was celebrated this month with a Google Doodle to mark her achievements.

Google Doodle 2/2/2020 The online firm said it wanted to honour "one of the greatest intellectual writers of the 19th Century". The illustration of the Jedburgh-born mathematician and astronomer appeared on the page for 24 hours.

Google said her books were some of the most popular scientific publications of her time "opening the door for generations of female scientists".

Somerville enjoyed similar recognition a few years ago when she appeared on a Royal Bank of Scotland £10 note. The company said it wanted to recognize her "immense contribution to science and her determination to succeed against all the odds".

Editor's note: You can read more of this accomplished woman at Wikipedia and at the University of St. Andrew's.

Snippets from Scotland

The Scotsman

A campaign to help revive the Gaelic language and culture is proving crucial in increasing tourism to the remote Western Isles of Scotland, traditionally a Gaelic-speaking part of the country.


BBC News

More than one million trees are to be planted in a Scottish National Park in a bid to provide shade for the major fishing rivers in the area, and help boost stocks of salmon and other species.


BBC News

The Great Tapestry of Scotland, which charts Scottish history over centuries, is soon to be housed in Galashiels in the Borders, and the public has been invited to contribute panels.


COMING EVENTS and Highland Games in Arizona and Nearby

February 12 Games Committee Meeting
ICC Norton Room, 6:00 PM

February 13 "Hearts and History" CSA Gathering

February 15-16 Queen Mary Scottish Festival
Long Beach CA

March 6-8 Sonora Celtic Festivel
Sonora CA

March 7-8, 2020 56th Annual Phoenix Scottish Games
Steele Indian School Park, Phoenix

March 7 Red Hot Chili Pipers
Madison Center for the Arts, Phoenix

Membership Notice

All 2019 memberships are extended through March 2020. We will be realigning our membership year to coincide with the Annual Phoenix Scottish Games. Please look for further information in March.

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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