November 2020     Title   Past Issues

In this Issue:

  Membership Drive   Betsy Ross Connection
  President's Letter   Sir Sean Connery
  Our Next Gathering   Thanksgiving & Piping
  Scotland's Hidden Gems   Snippets from Scotland
  Research Your Scottish Ancestry   Our Clan Representatives
    A Word from our Advertisers

Society News

Membership Drive

It has been a tough time for all clubs and associations this year. With few events on the horizon for the CSA, including the annual Burns Supper and Scottish Games, Membership Chairman Don Finch has launched a membership drive.

The membership year has been realigned to coincide with the annual Phoenix Scottish Games, thus 1 March through 28 February.

Members enjoy many benefits including helping to preserve Scottish culture in the Valley; fun and camaraderie with fellow Scots of all generations; free admission to most CSA gatherings; free monthly Desert Highlander newsletter; free annual consultation session with our genealogist; and volunteer opportunities galore.

Because of Covid we are unable to finalize plans for our two large group gatherings, the Scottish Games and the Burns Supper. The resulting loss of sponsor dollars and advance vendor fees means that membership dues are currently our only source of income.

Please consider supporting the Society by:- 1) Renewing your 2021 membership early. $30 single and $50 family (at the same address) or 2) Joining now for balance of 2020 term plus all of 2021. $40 single and $65 family (same address).

Use either option and receive two free gifts: an Alexander McCall Smith novel and a Scottish-themed t-shirt. Once your payment has been recorded, Membership Chairman Don Finch will contact you to review your book and shirt selection. The offer is valid for the first 100 selections.

Visit our Membership Page

Next Zoom Gathering

Please see the article at the top of the right column above for information about the November 21 Gathering

President's Letter
David McBee, President

David McBee

It has been good to see those of you that have joined our Zoom meetings. It breaks up the social distancing side effects. Keep an eye out for the next meeting and join if you can. If you haven’t Zoomed before, don’t be intimidated as we are just figuring out this new platform as well. There is lots of help and understanding available. We have a board meeting this week to work on some more content too.

Don Finch and I along with our better halves attended the Anam Cara Gala at the ICC to represent the Scots and show support for the Celtic community. Putting together a Covid Compliant Dinner event that was live online as well was quite a feat. There were bumps in the road but the heart was there and the support was very much felt. The Black Donellys were very good musicians and probably even better Irish drinkers.

We had hoped to have some insight into the Games possibilities by now but the City Council decided to punt for another month at least before deciding if Spring events can be sanctioned. It is not just events like ours that are in the lurch but even Spring Training Baseball may lose out as well. The pressure is immense all around. To quote one of our vendors and the head of a Celtic vendor coalition of 150 people, vendors wound give their right arm to have an event. We remain hopeful but it could be quite chaotic for sure. Stay tuned.

On a more positive note, I hope you had enough tricksters last night to keep you from having to eat leftover candy. You need to save room for turkey and leftovers. I bet a drive-by progressive Thanksgiving Dinner would be insane!!

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


Our Next Gathering, Changed to Rúla Búla - Same Date

At last, after what seems like an age, we have a real, non-Zoom, face-to-face event to announce. We will be gathering at Rúla Búla, a traditional Irish Pub at 401 S. Mill Avenue, Tempe, at 3 pm (new time) on Saturday 21 November.

Rula Bula

The bar owners are delighted to host us. We will be sitting at tables on the back patio and restricted to 10 people per table. Food and drink will be available from the patio menu.

We hope this will be the first of many similar events – not just in pubs but at other outdoor venues. We appreciate that not everyone will be comfortable meeting other people in public. Rúla Búla is in a central location and relatively easy to reach for people from all parts of the Phoenix area. Rúla Búla has been part of our Tempe Pub Crawl route for several years and the events there in the past have always been fun-filled and ‘great craic’ as the Irish say. Seeing each other in person will be a positive and cheerful way to end the year.

We'll have the Mesa Caledonian Pipe Band to entertain along with a raffle of some Scottish items.

Our Membership Chairman will be present for new memberships or renewals, with our sign-up-special tee shirt and book offerings, so bring along your check book or a little extra cash and join up. Looking forward to seeing everyone.

October Zoom Gathering Report

Our second Zoom meeting took place on 22 October and essentially took the form of a pub quiz without the pub. The theme of the questioning was Scottish/American links and congratulations to Lorna Proper for finishing first. She, along with all those in the top five, got their choice of a book or t-shirt.

Watch for information on an upcoming December Zoom Gathering

Scotland's Hidden Gems - Culzean Castle
Iain Lundy, Editor

What could be more Scottish than a spectacular clifftop Scottish castle complete with the obligatory clan history, gruesome tales of murder, and even paranormal sightings. Add to that a wing of the building dedicated to a former US President and you have a must-see attraction.

Culzean Castle (pronounced Cul-ayne) is the former clan seat of the Marquis of Ailsa, the chief of the Clan Kennedy. It is in immaculate condition both inside and out, and is located just south of the town of Ayr overlooking the Firth of Clyde.

It was built in the late 1770s by the 10th Earl of Cassilis, a member of the Kennedy family, and was for many years the seat of the clan. The Kennedys served with distinction in several European wars and some family members owned land – a lot of it – in the eastern US states, notably New York.

Culzean Castle

As with all Scottish clan seats, Culzean Castle saw its fair share of blood and gore. A member of the rival Stuart clan was tied to a spit and roasted in front of a fire. He lived to tell the tale, but it is said that crackling and roasting, accompanied by sobbing and screaming, can still be heard.

Up to seven ghosts, including servant girls and a piper, are supposed to haunt Culzean. A team from the BBC show ‘Most Haunted’ visited in 2002 and found evidence of paranormal activity.

During World War 2, Dwight Eisenhower, then Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe, visited the castle four times. The family insisted that the top floor apartment be given to Eisenhower in recognition of his service and, to this day, it is known as the Eisenhower Suite.

Culzean Castle is now owned by the National Trust for Scotland. The castle itself is stunning and it sits in the 642-acre Culzean Country Park, which is equally beautiful. It is only a short drive from Robert Burns Cottage in Ayr.

Research Your Scottish Ancestry

Robert WilbanksBritish Military Records

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

In previous articles, this column has discussed military records in general, and United States military records, specifically, in detail. Please review those articles in the Genealogy Archive, second and third articles in 2019. This article will present information specific to military records of the United Kingdom, prior to World War I, in detail.

“Why discuss British military records in a Scottish genealogy column?” A great number of Scots served in the military both in Scotland and England. In 1707, with the unification of the Kingdoms of England and Scotland forming the Kingdom of Great Britain, the Scottish Army was consolidated into the British Military. Therefore, searching British military records is the primary option for locating your Scottish ancestor in military records.

During the course of British history, the military had several different branches of service. These would include the Royal Army, Royal Navy, Royal Marines, the Militia, Fencible, Yeomanry, Territorial Armies, and Coast Guard. There were a lot of possibilities for British military service by your Scottish ancestors.

The National Archives at Kew is the official housing for British military records. They are organized by groups, called “fonds”, with unique department codes, followed by series numbers. Their Research Guide on British Army soldiers up to 1913 helps explain how to search and order records. It also provides information on records that have been digitized and are available online, as well as records not digitized. You can follow, and learn about, The National Archives on Facebook, on YouTube, as well as in many other social media sites.

Unfortunately, there is no all-encompassing or comprehensive index with which to search for a specific individual who may have served in the British Military from earliest times to present. You will need to already have certain pieces of information, or a specific objective, to determine which of many indexes or lists to search. It helps to have a time, or particular war, or specific branch of service, etc., to begin your search.

As always, the FamilySearch Wiki is a great source, with research information, and links to sources available online: British Military Records. They cover the British military history, with a breakdown of records by wars, branch of service, Medals, Awards and Honours, and more. Links to their many digitized records are included, as well as to external records available elsewhere on the internet. Additionally, you can review their Wiki pages on England Military Records or Scotland Military Records for more information and more links to resources online.

FindMyPast, a London based genealogy subscription service, has several collections and indexes, and some digitized original records, for British soldiers in various wars, Medal Rolls, Directories, and more. Other genealogy subscription databases, such as MyHeritage and Ancestry, also may have some of the same, or entirely different, British Military indexes and/or original digitized records.

Meanwhile, Fold3, another subscription based genealogy database, has an extremely extensive collection of online British Military Records, such as Navy Lists, Prisoners of War of World War II, World War I Pension Records, Airmen Died in the Great War, British World War I Women Casualties, and much, much more. Originally begun as a United States military records database, the database has expanded to include military records of the United Kingdom, and some of its Commonwealth Nations, as well as other genealogy records such as census, newspapers, directories, and more.

This was just a brief overview about British Military Records. Explaining in detail how to research these records would require much more space than I have here. But remember, there are numerous guides which can help you learn more about military records as a genealogical resource, including in the form of books, blogs on the Internet, the FamilySearch Wikipedia, YouTube videos, etc. Be sure to take the time to learn more on your own.

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.

A Betsy Ross Connection

Christie Clark, Deputy Commissioner for Clan Ross America in the greater Phoenix, area, helps staff the Ross tent at the Games (see below). She is also a direct descendant of Betsy Ross. Here she explains the family relationship.

Christie ClarkBetsy Ross and I are cousins by marriage about eight generations back. Her husband and my seventh great grandfather were brothers.

Betsy was shunned by her birth family because she married outside her Quaker religion without her father’s consent. She married John Ross and they rented a small house on Arch Street in Philadelphia and worked as apprentice upholsters.

Betsy also worked as a seamstress. John’s father was Reverend Aeneas Ross. He was assistant rector of Christ Church in Philadelphia. He was also rector of Immanuel Church in New Castle, Delaware, and the couple attended his church.

John was gravely injured and died early in 1776. Betsy remained close to her in-laws and continued working as a seamstress sewing clothing for parishioners of her father in law. One of her clients was George Washington. General George preferred to be called ‘Uncle George’ by people who were close to him. Bills of sale for shirts she sewed exist today.

Reverend Aeneas Ross was a son of Reverend George Aeneas Ross. Reverend George Aeneas Ross was the second son of the Earl of Ross. He married twice and had thirteen children. I am descended from his eldest son, David. His son George Ross and son-in-law George Read both signed the Declaration of Independence. Between these two Georges and George Washington, they had enough political power to have commissioned a flag. Why not have it sewn by someone they knew?

Do you have any famous ancestors? If so we'd love to hear from you.
Contact the Editor, Iain Lundy

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Sir Sean Connery
by Iain Lundy

In common with Scots the world over, we are saddened to hear of the passing of the great Sean Connery. Here is a cut-down version of an article I wrote about him in 2005.

To those who remember him growing up in Edinburgh he was Big Tam the milkman, the Japanese call him “Mr Kiss-Kiss Bang-Bang”, while to the readers of People Magazine he is “The Sexiest Man of the 20th Century”. His voice is mimicked by tens of thousands of people around the world and he has bedded some of Hollywood’s most beautiful women - on and off screen.

Sir Sean ConnerySir Sean Connery has never shied away from controversy, it has followed him since he was a strapping teenager. If James Bond 007 is larger than life then so too is Connery. He is outspoken on a range of issues and has a formidable army of detractors as well as millions of adoring admirers, mostly women who melt at the sound of his “dangerously sexy” Scottish accent.

Here Connery wears the MacLean Hunting tartan, honoring his mother's Clan

He will forever be remembered as the definitive James Bond. When the first Bond film, “Dr No”, hit the silver screens in 1962 it caused an absolute sensation. Connery was catapulted to super-stardom and a wave of Bond-mania swept the world.

Albert “Cubby” Broccoli, who produced the Bond films, is said to have been impressed by Connery’s tough physique but also by the fact he moved “like a panther”. The clamour for follow-up movies after “Dr No” was enormous and Connery starred in “From Russia With Love”, “Goldfinger”, “Thunderball” and “You Only Live Twice” after which he quit the role. He returned four years later in “Diamonds Are Forever” and quit again only to re-appear as Bond for a final time in 1983 in “Never Say Never Again”, an “unofficial” film made by a rival company.

There is, however, a lot more to Sir Sean Connery than simply James Bond. He has endured as a major film star for five decades and no other Scot, alive or dead, has made such an impact on the Hollywood movie industry. Films like “The Man Who Would Be King” and “The Hunt For Red October” are testament to his versatility and he won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for “The Untouchables” in 1987.

His multi-millionaire lifestyle in the Bahamas is a far cry from the poverty he witnessed growing up in Edinburgh’s Fountainbridge. He lived in a two-room, top floor flat with one bedroom and an outside toilet with his parents Joe and Effie and younger brother Neil. Thomas Connery - he adopted the name Sean when his acting career began - slept in the bottom drawer of the family wardrobe and grew into an ambitious streetwise kid.

At Bruntsfield Primary School he was marked out by his sheer physical size. He was known as 'Big Tam', a tough and uncompromising character and an excellent footballer - he later turned down a trial with Manchester United in favour of an acting career. He worked as a milk delivery boy in Edinburgh’s West End before leaving school at 14 and joining up with the Royal Navy, an adventure which lasted only two years before he was discharged with stomach ulcers. During his Navy days he got two small tattoos on his right arm, one saying “Mum and Dad”, the other “Scotland Forever”.

Connery worked for a time as a French polisher and took up bodybuilding. He represented Great Britain in the 1953 Mr Universe competition, posed for university art students and worked as a lifeguard at Portobello Pool.

The acting bug took him first to London, where he made his screen debut in 1955 in an uncredited role in “Lilacs In The Spring”. Three years later he played the love interest of Hollywood sex symbol Lana Turner in “Another Time, Another Place”. Turner’s gangster boyfriend Johnny Stomponato arrived on set, pulled a gun on Connery and told him to back off Turner. Connery replied by flooring him.

He was knighted in 2000 and has received honours from the Presidents of the United States and Panama for his contribution to acting. Married twice, to actress Diane Cilento and artist Micheline Roquebrune - his son Jason has followed in his father’s acting footsteps.

Thanksgiving & Piping

Len Wood, one of the founding members of the Caledonian Society and a noted piper, has put down in writing memories of his piping career and of Thanksgiving Day. He has entitled it Thanksgiving 2020 (originally published in the ‘Independent Celt’ newsletter).

I know some families gather around the turkey dinner, say grace and each member relates what it is that they are thankful for. My mother was always happy to get, “Gee mom, this is great.” I don’t even recall a thank you at our table. Shame on us. My mother was a pretty good cook, except when it came to fish. As Catholics we had fish sticks or crème tuna on toast on Fridays, but that is another story.

This was a lower middle-class family whose parents worked hard to provide all that we needed and most of what we wanted. Both are gone now, and I am very thankful for them. But I am also thankful for piping.

I started taking lessons at age 12 in upstate New York and moved to Arizona two years later. There I met members of the Phoenix Scottish Pipe Band and continued my lessons with them. I started teaching for the band at age 17, was later elected Pipe Major and then joined the Navy. Boot Camp and schools were spent in San Diego which gave me an opportunity to play with the Cameron Highlanders Pipe Band. That was not only a good experience for me, but it was where I met my wife, Kathy. I was transferred to a ship in Charleston, SC and was encouraged by the Pipe Major of the band to write to Kathy. She played pipes and for 35 years we had a great and loving partnership.

While in the Navy, my bagpiping was used to enter ports, represent the ship at functions and to play a memorial service for a shipmate who fell overboard and drowned. The instrument was always an introduction to new friends and places. Our move from Charleston to Savannah, GA, prompted Kathy and I to start the first pipe band in the city. A company move to Atlanta once again gave us instant friends and family with Atlanta Pipe Band and two years later a move to Hershey, PA opened more doors to some wonderful lifelong friends.

A return to Atlanta and eventually back home to Phoenix, brought more piping rewards. We were able to rebuild the Phoenix Scottish Pipe Band, teach new players and advance piping by bringing in top players and teachers. Our “A Piping Weekend” is in its 16th year and the renamed Phoenix Pipe Band is now a competitive Grade III pipe band with a second Grade V band. I am now retired from the competition band but still enjoy teaching and playing with the bands.

After Kathy died in 2008, I took her ashes to Inis Oirr, Ireland. On the way there I stopped in Waterford and met members of the De la Salle Pipe Band - instant family. They found a set of bagpipes for me and I marched to City Hall with the band in Levis and a tee-shirt. I have since gone to Ireland annually to play with De la Salle on, St Patrick’s Day, three trips to Lorient, France for the International Celtic Festival, the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising and the 2018 All Ireland Pipe Band Championships. I have never been treated better in this long life.

If someone had said to me at age 12, piping will take you to so many places and introduce you to so many new friends, I am sure I would not have believed it.

Snippets from Scotland

BBC logo

A bridge dating to the 13th century, and almost certainly used by Mary Queen of Scots, has been rediscovered beneath a river in the Scottish Borders..

History Scotland logo

The spectacular Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, which features pipe bands from around the world and which fell victim to Covid-19 in 2020, is to return next year. Organizers say tickets have gone on sale.

>Press and Journal logo

The post office in the Highland village of Inverie – accessible only by foot through the hills or by boat from nearby Mallaig – has been reopened, making it possibly the country’s most remote PO.

Our Clan Representatives

Continuing our series about the clan tents that help brighten up our Games every year, we spotlight two regular attenders, Clan Armstrong and Clan Ross.

Jack Armstrong – Clan Armstrong

2020 was the first year the Clan Armstrong was represented at the Phoenix Highland Games. Jack and Sky Armstrong had moved to Arizona in 2012 and felt the time was right to revive the Armstrong Clan here in Arizona.

Jack started the Armstrong Micro Museum which is dedicated to research and acquisition of artifacts from the clan’s history. Items date back to 1654 in the museum and some items are on display in the Armstrong tent.

Clan Armstrong

At our tent we really try to engage kids with our shields and swords for picture taking. We have a “Stretch Armstrong” that kids are really interested in. And we will work on expanding opportunities to engage kids at the next Highland Games.

Our family wasn’t sure what to expect being our first year representing our clan. It was obvious that there is camaraderie between the clans and a very welcoming atmosphere. We met a lot of people operating clan tents but also some of our own Armstrong descendants who were very pleased to see us and visit. We will be back bigger and better!

Outside of Gilnockie Tower in Scotland, the Armstrong Micro Museum has the largest collection of artifacts and books relating to the Armstrong Clan in the world, including artifacts owned by the most famous Armstrong, Neil.

All people of Scottish descent are encouraged to contact us, take a tour of the museum and visit our tent at the Phoenix Highland Games! Contact Jack at

Laurie Whipps – Clan Ross

Laurie WhippsMy co-games host Christie Clark and I had each been taking our families to the Arizona Highland games for years. Unbeknown to each other we also were frequent visitors to the Clan Ross tent. So, when it came time for the Arizona Clan Ross tent's previous host to retire, we volunteered to be the next hosts. The previous host gifted to us all of his Clan Ross tent supplies including the tent.

After our first games, being two women, we decided we had to down-size greatly. The supplies we had been gifted needed an SUV and another car to transport. Luckily for us, several other clans took pity on us and helped us with setting up and tearing down our tent. Since then, we have switched to a popup canopy and created shade screen walls. This made our clan tent much more comfortable in the Arizona heat.

We also traded the many large heavy glass framed pictures and displays for handmade, easy to display and transport informational cloth banners instead. Now all of our tent supplies can fit into a small hatchback car and make set up and tear down so much easier for the two of us to do.

Clan Ross

Once we get all set up, we settle down to enjoying the games and visiting with all our tent visitors. Being Clan Ross, we have a long history as a Clan and my co-host does a fantastic job of sharing our Clan history with our visitors including fun stories about her relative Betsy Ross. I get to have fun showing visitors all our displays, doing searches on our maps of Scotland and helping with searches in our many informational books. All in all, we really enjoy participating in the games every year.

A Word from our Advertisers

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