June 2021     Title   Past Issues

In this Issue:

  Summer CSA Meetings   Mesa Caledonian Pipe Band
  Prescott Highland Game   Edinburgh Tattoo
  Scotland's Hidden Gems   Snippets from Scotland
  Research Your Scottish Ancestry   A Word from our Advertisers

Society News

Summer CSA Meetings

Having had a meeting ‘break’ in May, we are planning a couple of online Zoom get-togethers over the next two months. We are looking at a real-time meet-up over the next few weeks and, hopefully, by the end of the summer Zoom meetings will be a thing of the past.

With the world, including Scotland, slowly opening up to travel, we are planning a Scottish ‘vacation special’ this month, just to remind ourselves how beautiful the old country is and what we’ve been missing all this time.

Society member Lois Wallace, who has been a travel adviser for more than a decade and who has organized many tours to Scotland, will give a talk on the most popular Scottish locations, as well as some of her own personal favorites. We will also embark on a pictorial ‘tour’ showing Scotland at is finest.

The meeting is provisionally penciled in for Thursday 17 June and Zoom invitations will be sent out to all members. If there’s a change of date we will let everyone know as soon as possible.

The July meeting will be the ever-popular genealogy talk given by Robert Wilbanks, the Society’s Chief Genealogist. The meeting will be on 8 July and Robert will be outlining the resources that are available online and giving tips on how to use them for research purposes. More information will be available nearer the time.

Prescott Highland Games Planned

The CSA may have had to cancel our annual Scottish Games in March, but our colleagues in Prescott are expecting better fortune with their event later in the year. The Prescott Highland Games have been scheduled for 25 and 26 September so for anyone willing to drive from the Valley, it should make for a great weekend.

PACS The Games are to be staged on Watson Lake Road and will include Clan tents; pipes and drums; athletics events; dance competitions; sheepdog demonstrations, a children’s section; vendors specializing in Scottish food and wares; and non-stop music in the main tent.

The Prescott Area Celtic Society said it is proud to be able to host the 2021 Games and welcomes all Celts to come along and join in the fun and festivities.

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

The stunning ruined fortress of Dunnottar Castle might not qualify as a hidden gem given that it’s visited by thousands of people every year – but you do have to know how to get there, you won’t simply stumble upon it by accident.

Dunnottar Castle

But given that castles are one of the most popular visitor attractions in Scotland, and Dunnottar is one of the most spectacular examples, it’s well worth making the effort to find it.

Dunnottar has the appearance of being the country’s most impregnable fortress. It stands on an outcrop of rock jutting into the North Sea south of the pretty harbor town of Stonehaven, in turn 16 miles south of Aberdeen. For sheer ruggedness there is little to match Dunnottar.

It was for many years in the hands of the powerful Keith family, the Earls Marischal whose job it was to serve as custodian of the Royal Regalia of Scotland, and to protect the monarch while attending Parliament. During the Civil War of the 1600s, the Royal Regalia (or Honors of Scotland) was kept at Dunnottar and hidden from the invading forces of Oliver Cromwell.

Nowadays the castle is privately owned, the Keiths having had their lands and property confiscated after fighting against the Crown during the 1715 Jacobite Rebellion. It is a popular tourist attraction and is reached from the coast road south of Stonehaven.

The clifftop site contains more than just the castle tower house. Among the other buildings are a former palace, a gatehouse, a blacksmith’s forge and chimney, a stable’s block, and the former Priest’s House. Both Mary Queen of Scots and James VI visited the castle in the 1500s.

Nowadays a visit there is an awe-inspiring experience. Apart from the dramatic ruins of the castle, visitors can marvel at the vast expanse of the forbidding North Sea, the jagged sea cliffs of the Aberdeenshire coastline, and the lush green farmland of the surrounding countryside.

The entrance defenses of Dunnottar Cstle: Upon your approach up the path from the mainland, you first encounter a narrow doorway, with defenders on both sides and above. Entering the doorway, you are met by multiple cannon ports (or just a piper, as when I was there.) If you get past the cannon, you have to make a hard left up to an open walkway only to face a third portal, again exposed to the defenders. Photos by Mark Pelletier

Dunnottar first doorway Dunnottar second doorway Dunnottar third doorway

Research Your Scottish Ancestry

Robert WilbanksWriting Your Familiy History

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

One important part of researching the family history that can be unpopular and intimidating is compiling the research results and stories into a shareable format. This would usually be a written family history. So many genealogists get so involved in the research, they generally forget that a finalized organized presentation is a natural expectation. Avoiding a way to share the results of your research with your family, and the world, can make the whole research process be considered a complete waste of your time, money, and efforts. And thus, doesn’t make any sense.

Many might ask, with pedigree charts, family group sheets, and online genealogy databases, why is it still important to write the family history, or family stories? These charts and sheets only provide the facts, the boring data, just names, dates and places, creating a sterile genealogy. But family history, with the stories, the events, the actions, etc., bring our ancestors to life, with interesting adventures, memories, and connections to historical events.

In differing ways, we are all storytellers. So writing the family story doesn’t have to be intimidating. In fact, you may find that it is easier than you realize. Much of your research will already present the story, one document at a time, that you can write one paragraph at a time. In essence, you can make writing the history manageable by writing small bits and pieces of your findings and stories along the way in the research process. The added benefit of writing the findings and stories as you go, is that missing elements can become more apparent, helping you to determine where the gaps in your research exist, and thus directing you to where you can continue your research.

One of the easiest aspects of writing the family story, is chronology. While research generally goes backward in time, and occasionally the research discoveries may actually occur out of chronological time, creating a timeline becomes important. Organizing your research, thus your stories, based upon the chronology of your ancestors’ life experiences, will be one of the easiest aspects of writing your ancestors’ history. As a result, you are creating both the timeline and the family history and stories at the same time.

Of course, your research and discovery of various records, will include the fundamental facts. Be sure to include these facts in your writings, including the dates and places of various vital events, as well as adding any related stories to those events. Meanwhile, some records will provide additional information from which you can build stories.

Some records will make writing the story easy. For example, naturalization papers, widows’ pensions, newspaper articles, diaries, scrapbooks, and more, will include great stories in the words of your ancestors, or written by others who were there. Photographs will also provide stories in and of themselves, and really bring your family history and ancestors to life.

Initially, you don’t have to write creatively. But as you go, and as you make more research discoveries, your creativity will grow and easily come to you with each addition and rewrite. You will be surprised by what you discover about yourself with regard to writing, and your creative abilities toward creating an exciting family history presentation. You may even discover the great fun of writing your family’s stories.

When it comes to writing the family history, there is not one required method or style. You can find or create a method or style that is right for you. There are many genealogy websites, blogs, wikis, videos, and more, out on the internet, with a wealth of information and instruction on writing your family history. Many will have different insights and varying options as to methods, styles, with great tips and more. You are sure to find one, or elements from many, to help you write your family history that is most comfortable for you.

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.

Mesa Caledonian Pipe Band

Our friends at the Mesa Caledonian Pipe Band have been keeping themselves busy over the past year to make sure they are fully prepared to face the world again once Covid is over.

The following video was posted on the Caledonian Society Facebook page by Dianne Hossack Nunez and shows band members in various desert locations – including underwater – playing the Dougie MacLean number “The Gael.”

Dianne said, “The project was a labor of love reflecting the band’s commitment to the music and each other, and to having some fun. Nearly every member of the band participated and is recorded on the video.”

If you missed the video on Facebook, here’s another chance to enjoy it:


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Edinburgh Military Tattoo

For the second year in a row, organizers of the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo have been forced to cancel the event because of Covid restrictions. The show is one of the most spectacular Scottish-themed events in the world and something all Scots should see at least once in their lives.

Several Society members have been enthralled by the Tattoo over the years. It brings together massed pipe bands and other musicians from all over the world and is worth more than £100 million to the Scottish economy.

Two years ago, Society Board member Kevin Conquest, Drum Major of the Mesa Caledonian Pipe Band, had the honor of participating in the event throughout its run.

Snippets from Scotland

Pess and Journal

The ruins of an ancient Scottish castle, believed to be the former seat of the Clan MacTavish, have been revealed during drainage work on the Crinan Canal in Argyll.



Here’s a nice little job opportunity for someone prepared to move to scenic Scotland. All that’s required are caretaking duties for an uninhabited Scottish island best known for its seaweed and bird population.


The Scotsman

The Scottish ancestral home of William Davidson, who founded the Harley-Davidson motor bike company, has gone up for sale. The cottage is in the hamlet of Netherton, in the Angus countryside.


A Word from our Advertisers

Kilt Rental USA

Len Wood

Micahel McClanathan
Bagpiper USB

Lois Wallace card


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