October 2020     Title   Past Issues

In this Issue:

  Society News - Zoom   Future Gatherings
  President's Letter   John Campbell of Arizona
  Books and Donations   Snippets from Scotland
  Scotland's Hidden Gems   Our Clan Representatives
  Research Your Scottish Ancestry   A Word from our Advertisers  

Society News

After a lengthy absence, some Society members managed to get together last month albeit for a virtual meeting via Zoom. It has been a difficult year for all organizations, the CSA included, and it felt good to at least be chatting online, and making plans to meet in real life.

In between the rather gloomy news about falling membership and the bleak outlook for next year’s Games, there was musical and comedy entertainment provided in the shape of the Hipflask Ceilidh Band (featuring Ian Warrander’s cousin Derek); and a joke or two from the incomparable Billy Connolly.

Linda Lambie also gave a short instructive talk on some basic Gaelic words – so everybody present now knows how to say 100,000 welcomes when they meet a Gaelic speaker in Scotland. Note that for Scots, the language is pronounced 'gal-ic', not 'gay-lic' as for Irish.

Past President Don Finch gave a brief history of the Society, founded in 1964 through a merger of two other organizations, The Scottish Society of Arizona and the Highland Society of Arizona. He said that, over the years, there had been occasional downturns in the membership list for a variety of reasons, but none as bad as this year’s Covid outbreak.

As for these things, only 78 out of 174 members have paid their annual dues. Those who want to update their membership should do so by visiting the Society website at www.arizona.scot

President David McBee explained the difficulties that were being experienced in trying to organize a Games for next year. Not only are there problems bringing people together; it is also looking unlikely that a venue will be available to us as things stand. There are discussions about a scaled-down Games and more details will be shared as and when things become clearer.

Mary Moriarty and Ciara Archer from the Irish Cultural Center told the meeting that the building has reopened but on a limited basis - and not the Library as yet. As things stand there is still no availability on Thursday evenings for us to hold our regular monthly meetings. Again, that could change in the not too distant future.

So, all that is the bad news. However, it was decided that we continue holding Zoom meetings as well as plan informal get-togethers in Celtic-themed bars around the Valley so we can meet face-to-face (see below).

The next Zoom meeting is scheduled for Thursday 22 October at 7 pm.


President's Letter
David McBee, President

David McBee

I hope to see more of you at our next Zoom meeting, October 22. I am also looking forward to the small gatherings that may be coming together.

I will also be representing the Society at the ICC Anam Cara event this month at my own expense but I will be showing support for all in our Celtic Community. They are sporting in-person tickets with all of the proper spacing and safety details as well as a remote live ticket as well. If you can attend, please do so. Information at azirish.org

We are meeting with the Phoenix Parks Department this week to begin discussions of possibilities for a 2021 Games of some sort if at all possible. We will update you on any significant progress but we are penciled in for March 6th. Now to see if this can work out for all involved.

Stay safe and sterilize with your sanitizer of choice. Scotch recommended.


Books and other donations

The Society has come into possession of two excellent collections of Scottish books, thanks to the generosity of members.

Genie Smith and her husband, Paul, who have been long-time members of the Caledonian Society, have gifted more than 100 books written by the Scottish author Alexander McCall Smith. The couple co-directed athletics for the Games between 1993 and 2003, and Genie has always been keen to increase the participation of women.

She said she had been reading McCall Smith’s novels for many years and was surprised to discover she had so many at home. She decided it was time for a clear out and who better than the Society to be the recipients? The books will made available in a soon-to-be-announced fundraising and membership special event. Watch for details at our web site and Facebook page soon!

Meanwhile. piper Michael McClanathan, owner of Kilt Rental USA in Scottsdale, has donated his collection of Sir Walter Scott’s Waverley Novels, which are among the best-known Scottish literary works of all time.

Michael has also donated 100 Scottish-themed t-shirts. A decision on what to do with the shirts and books will be made soon.

Scotland's Hidden Gems - Elgin Cathedral
Iain Lundy, Editor

Scotland is jam-packed with stunning historic ruined buildings, from old Highland villages that were cleared of inhabitants to the striking abbeys of the Borders, and the old ruined castles that dot the countryside. After having been left to rot for so long, these places are now major tourist attractions.

Elgin Cathedral
Presbytery and Rose Window, Iain Lundy photo

One of the most beautiful and often overlooked buildings is the ruined Elgin Cathedral, known to locals as the ‘Lantern of the North’. It dates to the 13th century and, although a ruin, the structure left standing is in remarkably good condition.

Elgin is a bustling market town by-passed on the main road between Inverness and Aberdeen. You have to make a conscious effort to stop there but, if cathedrals are your thing then it will have been a very worthwhile break in the journey.

Elgin Cathedral
Window detail and burials

At one time the Cathedral in Elgin was the second largest in Scotland after the better-known one at St Andrews. Over the years it has been burned by a vengeful nobleman known as the Wolf of Badenoch, then left to decay when the religious Reformation happened in the 1600s. Storms destroyed much of the building and many of the ancient artifacts were taken by opportunistic robbers.

However, what remains is a remarkably majestic ruin. The Presbytery, the West Door, and many other parts of the old cathedral are in remarkably good condition. Like many similar buildings, if you stand in the middle of the ruins and imagine the size and scale of the building when it was intact, you get a sense of peace despite the hustle and bustle of the nearby town.

Elgin Cathedral
Chapter House (octagon), Presbytery and Transepts seen from the North Towers, Mark Pelletier photo

Scotland has a long and turbulent religious history and Elgin Cathedral was at the center of many violent episodes over the centuries. It is a fascinating place to visit, as are the nearby Bishop’s House, Biblical Garden, and graveyard.

Research Your Scottish Ancestry

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

Robert Wilbanks In previous articles, this column has discussed the importance of networking and continuous learning, occasionally listing events happening throughout Arizona where you can learn with and from others thanks to genealogy societies. With so much growing specialty knowledge related to genealogy research, genealogy societies are a great place to continuously learn more and stay current on research, and even technology, related to genealogy.

Genealogy Societies (or Clubs) are organizations with a wide variety of membership working together learning about, and preserving, genealogy research and resources. Many of these organizations will provide a generalized coverage of genealogy, while many others can be more focused based upon ethnicity, geography, nationality or even by family name. Genealogy Societies are a great benefit for new and extremely experienced family historians alike.

Naturally, you should join societies from where your ancestors originated. But don’t discount joining a local organization where you currently live. For example, if you now live in Arizona, but your ancestry does not come from Arizona, this should not mean that you can’t or shouldn’t join an Arizona Genealogy Society. Many Arizonans are from elsewhere, as well as their ancestry. In addition to learning about genealogy basics, you could potentially find others already familiar with the locale you are researching in, or even be familiar with the specific family you are researching. At the first genealogy society meeting I ever went to (in Arizona where I have no ancestry) I discovered 5 different distant cousins in the room, with genealogies from Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and Virginia where my ancestry was from.

Of course, like other organizations and group events, genealogy organizations have been greatly impacted by COVID. This has made these organizations work to reinvent themselves in order to continue to be there for its members. Their efforts are starting to achieve a greater impact, providing opportunities for new and old researchers alike. Zoom, Skype, and other online video services, are providing the tools that are allowing genealogy organizations to continue to conduct their meetings, with guest speakers, and allowing their members to visit and engage with other genealogists.

For example, the Family History Society of Arizona (fhsa.org) has a number of chapters around the Phoenix area each having monthly meetings online through Zoom. Currently visitors are welcome with links to the meetings provided on their website; membership and registration are not required. The Pima County Genealogical Society (azpimagensoc.org) has monthly Zoom meetings with special guest speakers (registration required) as well as bi-weekly meetings for members only. They are holding a Zoom Seminar featuring Maureen Taylor ‘the Photo Detective’ on October 17th; registration and fee required.

Examples across the United States include The Georgia Genealogical Society (gagensociety.org) with free webinars monthly. Each county in Ohio has a Chapter of the Ohio Genealogical Society (ogs.org), with some offering monthly online meetings with guest presenters. The Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society (aahgs.org), and The Texas State Genealogical Society (txsgs.org) are hosting virtual conferences in October and November respectively. RootsTech (rootstech.org) has the biggest genealogy technology event annually. In February 2021, it will be entirely virtual. And now, there is even a Virtual Genealogical Association (virtualgenealogy.org) that is international in scope with multiple meetings monthly.

FamilySearch is hosting a wide variety of free webinars online at www.familysearch.org/wiki/en/Family History Library Classes and Webinars with past webinars posted on the “Classes in the Learning Center” at www.familysearch.org/wiki/en/Classes in the Learning Center These webinars include research techniques in Scotland, Ireland and England.

The website ConferenceKeeper (conferencekeeper.org) is a site solely dedicated to listing live, and now virtual, genealogy meetings, seminars and conferences all around the world. They have a master chronological listings page, as well as pages by locations. There is even a page that lists all virtual events by specific date.

To locate a genealogy society in the region of your ancestry, simply Google the county and/or state and/or country, with the keyword ‘genealogy’ or ‘family history’. To locate family surname societies, just Google that surname with the same additional keywords. Meanwhile, Cyndi’s List (cyndislist.com/societies) includes a category of ‘Societies & Groups’ with links to any genealogical, lineage or historical society in the world.

Today, the possibilities are endless, so stay home and get out there, and visit the many virtual learning opportunities.

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.

Future Gatherings

Given that we are unable to meet as usual at the Irish Cultural Center, the Society is planning to hold informal get-togethers in several Irish or Scottish bars in the Valley. We have already contacted pub owners, most of whom have said they would be delighted to have us along.


Most will be happy to set aside an area for us to sit, the only restriction being that we must be no more than 10 to a table. The gatherings will not be official Caledonian Society meetings, simply a way for those who are not still isolating to get out and meet face-to-face. It has been a long time since most of us have met.

The establishments that have so far said they will welcome us include Skeptical Chymist on Hayden Road, Scottsdale; The Dubliner on Thunderbird Road, Phoenix; O’Connor’s Bar on West Dunlap Avenue, Phoenix; Rula Bula on Mill Avenue, Tempe; and Lochiel Brewing on East Southern Avenue, Mesa. A few others have been approached and we are hopeful that one or two more will put out the welcome mat.

The idea is to spread out the locations across the Valley, so people don’t necessarily have to travel too far. One or two people will act as ‘host’ at each gathering and we look forward to seeing each other again in the flesh as it were.

Our two most regular haunts have each reported developments, one good, one not so much. Lochiel, which closed its taproom at the start of the Covid crisis, has reopened and is open Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings.

Meanwhile Caskwerks on University Avenue has been forced to seek new premises after a landlord dispute. We wish them well and hope to see them soon at a new location.

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John G. Campbell of Arizona

During the year we have looked at some pioneering characters who made their way from Scotland to Arizona during the state’s formative years. Most were intrepid with a sense of adventure and daring. After all these were truly the days of the Wild West.

John G Campbell was one of these pioneering individuals. Born in 1827 in Glasgow, he took a roundabout route to what was then the Arizona Territory – via New York City, Detroit, the California Gold Rush, Nevada, and even Chile in South America before settling in Prescott.

John G. Campbell Campbell proved a shrewd businessman, owning a general store and running a sheep farm. He also had a controversial spell as a local politician, during which he was investigated for election fraud. When his political career came to an end it was discovered he had never become a naturalized US citizen, so should never have held political office.

The enterprising Scot arrived in Prescott in 1868 and was among the first retailers to set up a store in the town’s famous Whiskey Row.

He also went into the cattle business and he and his partners, R H Buffum, and later James Baker, had one of the largest cattle herds in northern Arizona.

His business interests were diverse, and he was at one time President of the Yavapai Stockgrowers Association, and owned a hotel in Prescott.

His election as an Arizona Territorial Delegate in 1878 saw him thrust into the limelight for all the wrong reasons. It was alleged that he used livestock, whiskey, and cash to buy the votes of ‘all that were willing to sacrifice their manhood for such trash’.

A Catholic priest in Yuma was also said to have been ushering his parishioners into polling stations like flocks of sheep in order that they could vote for Campbell. A grand Jury investigation was held to look into possible election fraud but there was not enough evidence to bring charges.

His political career was short-lived and, by all accounts unremarkable. He made an unsuccessful bid to become Arizona Territorial Governor in 1885 then withdrew from public life. Campbell’s obituary in the Prescott Morning Courier in 1903 stated, “Campbell made a creditable record as delegate to Congress and helped as many poor people as any man who ever lived in Arizona. It is said that no man who appealed for assistance was ever turned away from him disappointed and that…he gave away thousands of dollars to poor prospectors.’

Snippets from Scotland

BBC logo

Following the decisions to call off the Edinburgh Festival and Fringe, as well as the New Year celebrations, the city has canceled its popular Christmas markets this year.


The Scotsman

What is believed to be the oldest book ever written in Scotland, a book of psalms called The Celtic Psalter, dating from the 11th century, has now been made available online.


Press and Journal logo

Old-fashioned red phone boxes are seen as quaint in Scottish rural areas. Now there are calls to keep them there for safety reasons because mobile reception is so patchy in some parts..


Our Clan Representatives

Every month we spotlight two clans who have for many years brought along tents to the Scottish Games and helped make the clans section one of the most colorful and successful sections of the event. This month we hear from Nan Beams of Clan McLachlan; and Steve and Donna McKinnis of Clan MacInnes.

Steve and Donna McKinnis – Clan MacInnes

To say we are committed to Clan MacInnes is a mild understatement. Donna is the Director of Cultural Affairs and Archivist for the International Association of Clan MacInnes (IACM). I’m IACM Vice President and Webmaster for https://macinnes.org, and together we produce The Archer, the clan’s quarterly newsletter.

Clan MacInness My brother first discovered we were Scottish and started hosting a Clan MacInnes tent in Tulsa in the 1990s. Donna and I started in Tucson in 1999, doing both the Phoenix and Tucson games annually, and Flagstaff once.

Our tent set-up is very modular, with my brother showing me how to use green lattice frames and plywood to mount information. Two lattices on the side, two plywood panels in front, a books box, sales box, and head/sign-in table box. It’s easy to load our truck with a camper shell, but all must be placed perfectly to fit. After 20 years, we have that down pat, packing the truck in an hour.

We set up ourselves, although the last couple of years my Phoenix nephew has helped there. With this organizing, setup takes about 90 minutes. The critical factor is that we can drive on to the field for set-up and breakdown--that really helps.

At our first set-up, we were placed next to Clan MacFie’s tent and became good friends. Now we are always placed together and share a hospitality tent. We enjoy offering food, drink, chairs, shade and information to visitors—new, returning and first-timers—many have become friends. In 2014, the Phoenix Games awarded us “Best Tent for Hospitality.”

Clan MacInnes is one of the oldest clans, small but highly active. We often help non-clan people find their clan names, clan locale on the Scottish map, and chat in general. For visitors of MacInnes heritage, we show them our history materials and ask them to sign in. Each games we mail postcards or email reminders of the upcoming event.

But age is creeping up upon us, so we aren’t sure how much longer we can do these games. We hope to find someone to take over, help them a year or so, and let them have the wonderful experiences we have had.

Nan Beams – Clan MacLachlan

The first time I visited the Phoenix Scottish Games, they were in the athletic field behind Central High School. I was wearing a wrap made from the Maclachlan tartan fabric given to me by my brother, who had visited the Maclachlan lands in Argyll. Bruce McLachlan from California, who at the time was the leader of the newly organized Western branch, recognized the tartan, left the tent, grabbed me by the arm, explaining that there were many variant spellings of our name (!), and several hours later, I was an official member of the Clan Maclachlan Society.

Clan MacLachlanCMSWUSA (Clan MacLachlan Society, Western USA) is one of seven worldwide branches of the Society and at this time is the largest and most active. I have served as Arizona Regent and President of our branch, and now serve on the executive council of the international Society as Editor of Clan Lachlan, the society’s semi-annual magazine.

Frankly, I don’t even remember when I first set up a tent for our clan in Arizona. There have been other convenors over the years, but when one of them leaves, the task of setting up and manning our tent seems to revert to me. When I first took over, the branch had provided a tent, a box of books, and some moth-eaten neckties and scarves in the various tartans. Over time, subsequent convenors added tables, signage, flags, and other display materials. Photo: Ross, Geoff, Nan and Angus

Now, my son Geoffrey Graham Beams (my “bearer of heavy objects”) can get our tent up in minutes, while I gratefully hand him whatever he asks for in the process. He also has winnowed down our “stuff” so that the tent, tables, and contents fit into my Camry, with enough space left over for which of us is not driving. Once we’ve set up, we make a point of visiting the people in the other tents whom we see only at the Games. We have a few regular visitors, but inevitably every new year brings visitors to the tent who only know someone in their family was a MacLachlan or Gilchrist or MacEwen. And then we’re off on that special journey together through the interesting and inspiring story of our Scottish ancestors. It’s a story I love to tell and am proud to share. Memberships and T-shirt sales often follow.

Geoff and I learn something new at every Games we attend, and we look forward to gathering again when COVID-19 is an unpleasant memory

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
Gatherings have been suspended due to the COVID-19 situation. Watch for information when government guidelines change.

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