June 2020     Title   Past Issues

In this Issue:

  Start of the Phoenix Games   Society Membership
  President's Letter   Scots & Arizona Place Names
  Local Scots News Items   Snippets from Scotland
  Scotland's Hidden Gems   Update on Events World-wide
  Research Your Scottish Ancestry   A Word from our Advertisers  

The Start of the Phoenix Games
Len Wood

Len Wood, long-time member of the Phoenix Pipe Band, was one of those who helped organize the first Highland Games in the city. A phone call after this year's gathering stirred some memories, as he explains:

"After this year's Highland Games in Phoenix in March, I received a phone call from Mrs. Henry Kirkwood. She had seen my business card ad in the Desert Shamrock and called to ask if I was the same bagpiper she and her husband had known in the 1960s, and we had a very nice conversation.

It started me thinking about the beginnings of the Phoenix Highland Games and Gathering. Her husband Henry Kirkwood, who died last year at 101, was a founder of the Games and one of the early supporters of Scottish activities in the state. Both of his parents emigrated to Chicago from "the old country" and Henry grew up in the Scottish community there. He went on to stardom in Chicago as the singer Kirk Wood and moved to Phoenix with his family in the late 1950s. I met him as a teenager when I played pipes for the Arizona Scottish Society of which he was a member.

AZ Republic 1967

The Society met monthly at the Encanto Park Club House and held two major events during the year. One was the Robert Burns Birthday dinner and the other St. Andrew's Night. Our band, the Phoenix Scottish Pipe Band, played at these events. At one in 1966 a member of the club stood up and said, "Why can't we hold games like those in California?" Jock Snedden, the band's instructor said, "Well, why don't you." I recall that going over like the proverbial lead balloon. And the notion, was quickly dropped. As a 17-year-old and not knowing any better, I thought it was a great idea.

A call to Henry Kirkwood one week later got a cautious but somewhat positive response. A committee was formed and it was decided to start with a picnic, complete with a pot luck, pipe bands, sack races, and spontaneous singing. It was just enough fun to encourage us to think about moving ahead with the next year's event. Committee meetings involving members of the pipe band and the Scottish society met to map out an event for 1968. I remember calling The Tucson Highlanders and the Arizona Moose Highlanders and of course my own band the Phoenix Scottish Pipe Band, and searching for judges for both piping and dancing, because this was going to be a fully-fledged Scottish Games in Arizona. Dancing wasn't too hard as the mother of one my class mates had taught Highland Dancing in Ohio before moving to Phoenix. Our judge, Mrs. Yarnal, wasn't kept too busy with only three dancers and three events, but it was certainly a start. Piping was another issue, as we offered events in Novice and Amateur and an open Piping Trio contest. Asking around, I learned that another Chicago transplant, Duncan Finlayson was living in Gilbert and he might be interested in judging our event. While he was very gracious, he declined, but said that his father, Mel Finlayson was visiting and he might be willing to help us.

Mel Finlayson was a member of the Eagle Pipers of Scotland, Pipe Major of the Chicago Stockyards Pipe Band and on the judge's panel for the Midwest Pipe Band Association. All he requested was the loan of a hat as he didn't have any gear with him. Mel drove out from Gilbert (a long drive in those days), did an amazing job, and all just to help us get started. We were certainly in his debt and we developed a good friendship with him.

1969 Invitation

So, on May 12, 1968, the first of many Highland Games and Gathering got its start in Encanto Park. That quasi picnic and those contests have come a long way since then."

President's Letter
David McBee, President

David McBee I hope you are all well. Miss the laughter and smiling faces even more.

Well, it just keeps getting weirder and weirder. Between lockdowns and curfews, I don't know when we can get together again in person. Maybe there is a virtual way to get in one big chat session together and raise a toast or two. Keep thinking on it.

We will be having a virtual Board meeting on June 8th. It also looks like we might be making progress on getting some of our main sponsor money. We shall see how this goes. This is a challenging time for all. So many Games are just throwing in the towel this year. It is sad.

But we must look to the future and see what we can make happen in the coming year. Let’s grab a bagpiper and stroll forth into the unknown. At least we’ll sound cool.


Some Local Scots News

Locheil Brewing

Sad news that one of the Society's favorite watering holes of recent years, Lochiel Brewing, is closing its taproom to concentrate on a manufacturing and bottling line operation. CSA members and friends have enjoyed several good days courtesy of mine host Ian Cameron and his attentive staff. But Lochiel and its excellent Scottish-themed ales will not be gone forever. The products will still be available on a wholesale basis and we look forward to its continued presence in the Valley.

Authentic Celtic Travels

Caledonian Society stalwart Lois Wallace has made some exciting new changes in her professional life in the past few months. Lois, who has run the travel firm Authentic Celtic Travels for several years, has now joined the team at the San Francisco-based company We Make Travel Easy.

She said the move will free her from many of the administrative duties and enable her to concentrate on planning vacations for clients, with the emphasis on Scotland and Ireland. Lois said, "Never fear, I will still be here in Phoenix to take care of your Celtic Travel needs, Since we cannot travel now we can dream and plan for when we can safely travel." You can reach Lois at: lois@wemaketraveleasy.com

Scotland's Hidden Gems - the "Bridge over the Atlantic"
Iain Lundy, Editor

It might be the most far-fetched description of any place name or tourist attraction in the world. But, technically speaking, the Bridge over the Atlantic on Scotland's west coast is just that. A bridge that spans at least a small part of the earth's second-largest body of water.

Don't, however, go there expecting too much. In fact, be prepared for something of a head-scratching surprise. The bridge is in reality an unassuming stone, single-arched, hump-backed structure over a small stretch of water known as Clachan Sound.

Its real name is Clachan Bridge and it connects the Scottish mainland to the Island of Seil, 10 miles south of the ferry port of Oban. So why does local tourist literature claim you can 'cross the Atlantic in less than a minute?'

CLachan Bridge

Strictly speaking, the Clachan Sound at both its north and south ends, feeds into the Atlantic Ocean. So, by crossing the little bridge, which dates to 1792, you could possibly claim to have crossed a very tiny part of the great ocean. It's a bit like saying the much larger Confederation Bridge between New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island in Canada takes you on the same transatlantic journey.

When all is said and done it's just a good fun bit of tourist marketing. And at least if you go there you'll find some beautiful west coast Scottish scenery. And the first building on the other side of the bridge is a very fine pub so the journey will not have been wasted.

How to get there: Head south from Oban on the A816 for eight miles, then take the B844 for 3.5 miles.

Research Your Scottish Ancestry

Robert WilbanksScotland's Records of Occupations

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

One of the best ways to learn about your ancestors is by learning what kind of work they did. Tracing the occupations of your ancestors can be one of the best ways to learn more about their everyday lives, skills, and their financial and social status. This in turn can help you distinguish your ancestor from other individuals with the same name in the same location. Additionally, records associated with some of the more unique occupations can provide more family information, as well as individual facts, and in turn provide direction for other research.

In some areas of occupations, records may exist noting persons within specific occupations. Examples would be apprenticeship records, burgh records, and records relating to guilds. These can include family relationships or birthplaces, former and current places of residences, and more.

Before the reign of David I, King of Scotland (1124-1153), Scotland had no officially recognized towns or villages. Outside of the normal scattered hamlets, the closest things to a town were the larger than average concentrated populations around large monasteries or fortifications. David I began to found the earliest burghs in 1124, each with a royal charter (hence royal burghs) and with a Leges Burgorum (Laws of the Burghs) the written rules for governing, and dictating every aspect of life and work within the burgh. These were copied almost verbatim from the customs of Newcastle upon Tyne, in Northeast England. As Scotland was primarily agricultural, and rural, these burghs initially relied on craftsmen and tradesmen from England, France and Germany to settle there and begin to conduct trade.

The royal charter to establish a burgh was a method by which to create commerce and conduct foreign trade. The ability to work or conduct business within the burgh was regulated by the governing body of the burgh. In turn, this 'right' created a unique citizenship status known as burgher or burgess or later Freeman, a person with full freedom of a city. As a result, 'Records of Freeman' is a common type of record for most burghs. These records can provide date and place of residence, name of the freeman, name of the father, occupation, and possible other information.

Meanwhile, certain burgesses of a town would band together based upon craft or trade, forming guilds. These guilds would regulate trade and protect members' interests. A guild could monopolize business within a burgh, and they kept very careful records of their members. A person could become a member of such a guild by completing an apprenticeship, being the son of a burgess, or marrying the daughter of a burgess.

An apprenticeship was a method of learning a skill and eventually establishing a trade within a burgh. An apprenticeship was an indenture, or contract, which usually bound a boy over to a master for about seven or so years, usually to the age of 21, varying by type of trade. There are many forms of apprenticeship records with a wide variety of information that can be very helpful in genealogy. These records may usually be found in Court Records. This custom was brought over to the New World.

The National Records of Scotland house many of the guild and burgh records. More about their collection of records of 'Crafts and Trades' can be found at this page: www.nrscotland.gov.uk/research/guides/crafts-and-trades Information about their 'Burgh Records' can be found on this page: www.nrscotland.gov.uk/research/guides/burgh-records

The Scottish Record Society, one of Scotland's oldest historical societies has published many historical records. They have many published lists of burgesses and guilds, as well as records of various other occupations, including doctors, lawyers, architects, railway men, schoolmasters, coal miners, and more. A listing of all their publications are on this webpage: www.scottishrecordsociety.org.uk/publications/old-series/

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.

Society Membership Renewal
Don Finch, VP Membership

Stay CalmThe Phoenix Scottish Games in March were one of the few Scottish events that happened this year before the virus-related shutdown. We're still working on closing the books, but the increase in park fees and equipment rentals plus reduced sponsorship dollars means we really need your support.

If you haven't already paid your 2020 Membership dues, please consider helping us out. The membership year runs from April 1, 2020 through March 31, 2021.

Annual dues are $30 Single; $50 Family

There are two choices to renew (or join)

   1) Renew on-line www.arizonascots.com/03membership.shtml
   2) mail us a check: Caledonian Society of AZ, PO Box 50092,
       Phoenix AZ 85076 (Please include name, address, ZIP, phone, email,
       and Clan name for a badge if needed.)

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Scots, and Arizona Place Names
Iain Lundy, Editor

Last year during the summertime 'silly season' we checked out some Scots who were responsible for Arizona place names. This year it feels like silly season and then some ... so let's have another look around the state for Scots who left their mark on Arizona.

Mary Gee
Born Mary Newlands in Paisley, she helped create one of the most bizarre tourist attractions in Arizona. She was a newlywed when she and her husband moved to Tombstone more than 130 years ago and left behind a legacy far removed from the town's gun toting Wild West reputation. In 1885 relatives in Scotland sent Mary cuttings of a quite beautiful Lady Banksia Rose, along with some other of her favorite flowers. She took a small rose cutting and gave it to Amelia Anderson, the owner of the boarding house where she was living.

When it was planted the rose thrived in the hot desert conditions. It kept growing, and growing, and growing. Today it covers an area of 5,000 square feet and is displayed on a trellis system of metal pipes and poles at the town's Rose Tree Museum.

Rose Tree Museum

The Guinness Book of Records has acknowledged Mary Gee's gift to Tombstone as the largest rose tree in the world, and it has featured in Ripley's 'Believe it or Not' columns.

David Gowan
The exploits of pioneer gold prospector Davie Gowan in upstate Arizona are equally weird and wonderful. Davie came from Inverbervie on Scotland's east coast to seek his fortune. He succeeded, but not in the way he envisaged.

In 1877 David, according to his own story, was hiding from Apache Indians under what is now the beauty spot known as Tonto Natural Bridge. The Scotsman fancied the piece of land for himself. He told the authorities he had been forced to hide for three days, and that as a result he was entitled to squatter's rights. They agreed and he was granted 160 acres on which he built a fine home.

Tonto Natural Bridge

David then invited some family from Scotland to join him and they built cabins for visitors to view the newly-discovered natural wonder. As for old Davie he went out prospecting one day and never returned. A search party later found his frozen body in the wilderness.

John Mackie
The Glasgow man was a typical lawless character in the old Wild West, a ne'er do well whose gun did most of his talking. But for a few short months in 1876 he achieved a degree of notoriety when he befriended one of America's most infamous outlaws, Billy the Kid.

Mackie had been a Union Army bugle boy in the Civil War and had drifted west. The Kid was 16, on the run, and using the name Henry McCarty when he and Mackie met in the Arizona village of Bonita, near Camp Grant. Mackie called him 'young Henry' and the two developed quite a rapport.

Mackie was 27 and, to some extent, became the Kid's mentor. He was the man responsible for teaching the teenage drifter the various techniques for successfully stealing horses. The two used to steal the horses of soldiers as they drank inside Bonita's Hotel de Luna.

Capture was inevitable. The two were locked up in Camp Grant. The Kid escaped and was dead by 21. Mackie was never heard of again.

Robert Dick
There is a small corner of Arizona named after Robert Dick, a baker-cum-geologist from Thurso in the far north of Scotland, but unless you are well acquainted with the Grand Canyon, it's doubtful that you'll ever have heard of it.

Dick studied the red sandstone at the Canyon for many years and his work was so assiduous that a detached rocky pillar in what is known as the Grand Scenic Divide was named Dick Pillar in his honor.

Little else is known about Dick's life but he was held in high regard as a geologist. In naming Dick Pillar, a fellow geologist said, "In honor of the indefatigable Robert Dick of Thurso, Scotland, whose labors in the Red Sandstone added so much to our knowledge."

Snippets from Scotland

BBC logo

Old black and white photographs of Scotland have been digitized and made available by Historic Environment Scotland. The 170,000 images cover scenic shots, and working life, both urban and rural.


Press And Journal logo

Thousands of Scottish soldiers were captured at the Battle St-Valery-en-Caux in northern France during WW2. Now pipers from the Scottish Highlands have signed up to pay tribute to the battle's forgotten heroes.


News STV logo

Scotland's oldest wartime veteran Jimmy Sinclair, who fought as a Desert Rat in the North African WW2 campaign, has died aged 107. Jimmy lived in Kirkcaldy, Fife, and had featured in a recent VE day TV show.


More Highland Games canceled throughout the world
Mark Pelletier, VP Administration

Since our last Newsletter, the remaining three events in Arizona have been canceled: Flagstaff (July), Prescott (September) and Tucson (November)

In reviewing my Clan Campbell Society calendar of Scottish Events in North America I find that all April, May, June and July events are canceled. (Manitoba will attempt a "virtual" event). There are about five August events still scheduled, two of which were rescheduled there from earlier thsi year. At this writing, approximately one-third of Septmeber events are canceled; as are many others well into October and November.

Looking at Scotland, all June and July events have been canceled; and only two remain scheduled for August - Drumnadrochit and Oban late in the month. Their season ends the first week of September, and all those events are canceled too!

One has to wonder how many organizations will be able to recover and return next year?

Membership Notice

All Memberships now run from April 1, 2020 to March 31, 2021.

Membership dues for 2020-2021 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
Gathering have been suspended due to the COVID-19 situation. Watch for information when government guidelines change.

A Word from our Advertisers

Kilt Rental USA

Len Wood
Bagpiper USB

Lois Wallace card


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