Nollaig Chridheil agus Bliadhna Mhath Ùr*!
What a year it has been for The Scottish Society of Wilmington! As I prepared for our Annual General Meeting in November, I began to list all the things we have done or been involved in during 2022, and it turned out to be quite extensive. We have started new programs and events, expanded our opportunities to promote The Society and increase awareness of the rich Scottish heritage of the Cape Fear region, and developed ways to partner with other organizations with similar goals. Here is the list I presented to those in attendance at the Annual General Meeting:
Launched a new website
Successfully pivoted to virtual Burns Supper
First Annual Bagpipe Festival
First Annual Port City Highland games
Produced Ceilidhs in the spring and fall
Attended Grandfather Mountain and Crystal Coast Highland Games (and planned to attend Scotland County, cancelled due to Hurricane Ian)
Established regular board meetings on the second Wednesday of each month
Produced a Scottish-centric list of things to see and do for the Convention & Visitor’s Bureau
Participated in the “Outlander in the Cape Fear” podcasts
Set up a Gear/Swag Store (see website)
Resumed our participation at the Commemoration of the Battle of Moore’s Creek, including providing Brunswick Stew for the volunteers and re-enactors
Sponsored the premiere Highland Echoes show in Boone
Published several issues of The Whistlin’ Thistle
Had representation at Sister Cities International
Planned to participate in the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade (cancelled due to weather)
Presented a program to the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute
Attended 50th Anniversary Celebration of St. Andrew’s Society of North Carolina
Our Society is fortunate to have an engaged and talented Board of Directors and I can’t thank them enough for their support and encouragement this year. I especially want to thank former Board member Claire Tobyne and her husband Mark for their hard work on our behalf over the past few years. Among other things, Mark and Claire helped us get through the pandemic with their “All Things Scottish” forums, and Mark was instrumental in helping us organize music for the Port City Games. Claire has resigned from the Board, since they have moved to Swansboro, but they remain active members. We are fortunate to have Topher Davis as a replacement for Claire on the Board.
Looking forward to 2023, even more great things are coming! Our 30th Annual Burns Supper will be held January 28 at the Hotel Ballast, and we’re looking forward to our first in-person Supper in three years! We’re partnering with UNC-W again for the Second Annual Bagpipe Festival on February 5, and, later in the month we will once again participate in the Commemoration of the Battle of Moore’s Creek. We are the representatives of the Loyalists (mostly Scots) who lost their lives and we honor them by laying a wreath at their monument, along with one at the “main” monument. Following the wreath-laying, we have an information table in Patriot’s Hall and serve Brunswick Stew to the volunteers. There is more information on these events elsewhere in this issue and on our website.
Current plans are to continue our participation in events like the St. Patrick’s Day Parade and various Highland games, as well as having our own Spring and Fall Cèilidhs. We are also continuing to work with paws4people and Port City Highland Games LLC on producing the Second Annual Port City Highland Games, and there is exciting news to share on that front. We have also voted to continue supporting the efforts of the Scottish Outreach Foundation to promote Scottish American heritage through education and the Highland Echoes show (think Riverdance, only Scottish). The Board will continue its regularly scheduled meetings on the second Wednesday of each month (via Zoom unless otherwise announced), which all members in good standing are invited to attend.
It has been my honor and privilege to serve The Society as president this past year and I look forward to continuing through this second year of my term.
*Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
2023 Burns Supper
The Scottish Society of Wilmington cordially invites you to attend the Society's 30th Annual Burns Supper!
Join us and share in the tradition of a Burns Supper as we honor Scotland’s National Bard. Come enjoy the poems, the music, the toasts and the Address to a Haggis. Music by Port City Pipes & Drums and Lisa & Galen.
There will also be a Silent Auction of Scottish items and a 50/50 raffle (credit cards will be accepted for the auction). There will be a cash bar available and reservations are required. If you'd like to help out with the event, such as a Silent Auction item, setting up, or giving a toast, please let us know on the registration page.
$65 for Non-Members
$55 for Members*
Price includes admission & dinner. Cash Bar Available. Reservations required by January 15, 2023
The Hotel Ballast has offered a limited number of rooms to our group at a reduced rate of $174 for Riverview or $149 for Cityview (not including taxes and fees). These rooms are first come/first serve. To reserve a room, call the reservation line at 800-HILTONS (use code SSB) or click here.
If you prefer to pay by check, please click here for a registration form and mailing instructions.
*Members in good standing should have received a separate email with a coupon code. If you are an active member and did not receive the email, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Second Annual UNC-W Bagpipe Festival
Presented by Bill Caudill, St. Andrews University Pipe Major
Sponsored by UNCW with help from the Scottish Society of Wilmington
Second Annual UNCW Bagpipe Festival: Recital and Workshop
Sunday, February 5, 2023
1 PM, Novice / Beginner Workshop (practice chanters provided)
2:15 PM, Advanced / Experienced Workshop
4 PM, Recital with reception to follow, hosted by the SSOW
UNC-Wilmington Cultural Arts Building, 601 South College Road
Recital is free and open to the public
Workshop fees will be posted soon
Online Registration will be available soon
Novice / Beginner and Advanced / Experienced Levels
Limited seating for each level
Bagpipe supplies and gifts offered by the High Country Scottish-Irish Shoppe, www.highcountryscottish.com
Contact Dan Johnson at email@example.com
247th Commemoration of the Battle of Moore’s Creek Bridge
Continuing our tradition, SSOW will once again participated in the Commemoration of the Battle of Moore's Creek Bridge on February 25-26, 2023. We have the honor of placing a wreath at the Loyalist Monument, in addition to the larger wreath-laying ceremony with many participating organizations such as DAR and SAR Chapters from around the State.
Following the ceremony, we will have an information table in Patriot's Hall. SSOW will also provide lunch for the volunteers and re-enactors.
St. Patrick's Day Parade
After several attempts to hold the annual St. Patrick's Day Parade have failed due to weather and/or Covid, the SSOW is planning on participating in this year's Parade on March 11. The annual fund-raiser, Hooley Under The Bridge, will be held on Saturday, February 11, 12:00 - 6:00 pm at Waterline Brewery.
For more information on the festivities, click here.
To register to march with SSOW, click the button to the left.
Port City Highland Games
With a successful return of Highland Games to Wilmington in 2022, we are now gearing up for our Second Annual Port City Highland Games on June 3, 2023. The Scottish Society is once again partnering with paws4people and Port City Highland Games LLC to produce an even better event! We are excited to announce that the British Motor Club of the Cape Fear has decided to join us and will be holding their annual Car Show as part of the festivities.
Registration for vendors and Clan tents, as well as sponsorship opportunities are now open. To find out more and get the latest news, sign on to the email list at portcityhighlandgames.com.
Return to the Motherland
By Taylor Cromartie - Clan McGregor, Clan McKenzie, Clan Stewart, and Clan Urquhart
In April 2022, my father and I traveled across the big pond in our number ONE bucket list item: Visiting Scotland.
Our adventure started in London. London is beautiful (the city is a recognized forest!) and everyone was so nice - even on the tube! So nice that when Dad stopped pedestrian traffic in the Westminster tube walkway because he received an alert on his phone that Leaky Black was coming back to UNC, the lady he stopped in front of apologized to him!
After three days in London, we took the train to SCOTLAND! Our first stop was Edinburgh and while in Edinburgh we enjoyed a ghost tour that included an overview of ways to know if you are a witch (I met many requirements that they had during the witch trials centuries ago, don’t get any ideas though!). We also enjoyed an amazing tour of Edinburgh that included the Royal Mile, many Harry Potter locations and stories, and Edinburgh Castle. We did see the Stone of Destiny in the Crown Room while at the castle. The Stone will only leave Scotland for King Charles’ coronation.
Then it was time to pick up our rental car. I was assigned the driver role, Dad our Director of Photography, and our car we named Bernice (an MG SUV, pretty cool) was navigation. Bernice guided us through Scotland, including stops in Orkney, Cromarty, Inverness, Glencoe, and back to Edinburgh.
One of our stops was a private tour of the Rothiemurchus Estate via Land Rover, which was amazing. We explored and fed red deer, and Highland cattle, and enjoyed the natural beauty of the estate. Cows wag their tails when you stroke their head. Our guide, who was fantastic, said that thistle is “just a weed”, the horrors!
Next, we drove to Ness Walk Hotel in Inverness. Imagine our excitement when we walked into the bar and the first thing we see is a beer tap for “Cromarty Brewing Co.” The following day we took a boat ride on Loch Ness (we did not see Nessie though I could feel her presence) and visited Urquhart Castle (Cromarty/Cromartie is a sept of Clan Urquhart).
Our next stop was Cromarty Brewery followed by a visit to the town of Cromarty where my ancestors lived up until approximately 1450. Leaving Cromarty, my ancestors moved to South Ronaldsay, Orkney Isles, specifically St Margaret’s Hope. In 1758, William Cromartie (my 4th great-grandfather) left Orkney and settled in Bladen County, NC.
While in the Orkneys we visited Kirkwall, South Ronaldsay including St. Margarets Hope, Scapa Flow, and crossed the Churchill Barriers.
There are no words to describe seeing Cromarty and the Orkneys. But close to it would be a mix of wonder, awe, adoration, and appreciation. It left me speechless on the trip and still am at times now.
We left Orkney and traveled to Glencoe. We drove on the road featured as James Bond’s home in Skyfall.
Traveling from London, Edinburgh, Inverness, Cromarty, Orkney, then to Glencoe and back to Edinburgh, we were able to see the wonder of Scotland, the changing landscapes as you move from place to place. The whole trip feels like a dream. Several times my dear friend would text to say “the motherland has called you home”, and to check in and ask, “you are coming back to the U.S, right”?
We started planning our second trip on the flight home.
A few tips for first-time travelers to the UK:
Gas pumps are green and diesel pumps are black. Fortunately, we noted this immediately.
Take as many of the “single track” roads as you can. Some of the best adventures and views were on these roads.
Take the train if you can, beautiful!
Do not park in an airport hotel parking lot and wait for your COVID test, they will ticket you. They have CCTV everywhere. We arrived early for our required COVID test (no longer required to return to the US) and I received a ticket for £100.00 from the Premier of the British Parking Association and had to pay the rental car company a £40.00 processing fee. Somehow, Dad and I both missed the big no parking signs…
The white lines in the middle of the road are not an indication that you are on a one-way street in most cases. Our “dual carriageways” are marked with a yellow line, not in the UK. I read the driving manual before driving and the street markings threw me off on the first day.
Highland Cattle (Coo), Rothiemurchus Estate
Cromarty Brewing Tap at Ness Walk Hotel
Urquhart Castle & Loch Ness
Scapa Flow & Churchill Barrier 1
Edinburgh, Royal Mile
Cromarty Square, St. Margarets Hope, Orkney, Scotland
Cromarty, Scotland, UK
My Wilmington Roots
By Catherine Williams Fort
In 1803, a young Scottish merchant arrived in Wilmington, too ill to continue his journey to Charleston, his intended destination for a new life in America. Fortunately for us, his descendants, he left a letter with his background and reasons for coming to America:
As my time is now short I have concluded that it would be best to leave a record of myself in case some day it might be of advantage to those I leave behind. I, John Williams or Williamson, am second son of Robert Williamson and Isabel Marshall whose father was proprietor of Quindo Brief House. My eldest brother's name was William. He entered His Majesty's service in the Navy in 1800 as surgeons mate of the Kint. My father was a farmer in Whitehall, Qumkirk Estate, Parish of Calder, County of Lanark, Scotland.
I was born in Whitehall in 1772, 3rd January.
My father, in order to help a number of poor weavers in '97, '98 and '99 was induced to embark in the manufacturing business for their support and no doubt would have made a success himself but unfortunately he employed a villain by the name of Thomas Addam who brought him into great difficulties and finally complete ruin.
I was taken from the plough and placed into his warehouse but having had hardly any education or practice I was quite unﬁt for the business. In 1800 he associated my name with him in business under the ﬁrm of Robert Williamson & Son.
In 1802 we dissolved and I was sent out to New York after business and returned same winter. On my return I found him and myself completely ruined.
I left home again in 1803 for good without money, clothes, or friends for Charleston by this place [Wilmington] and here I have stopped.
On my departure from Liverpool the clerk in the Custom house entered through mistake on the clearance my name John Williams which I did not discover until some weeks after. On my arrival here I had to enter myself Williams and not thinking I would stop here I deemed it of no consequence what I was called. Indeed my mind was in such a state I hoped that the Fall fever would put an end to my sorrows and I believe it would have had it not been for my worthy wife's care of me in whose house I boarded.
I have remained here ever since under the abridgement of my real name only omitting the letters "on."
This is a record of myself which may be of service to my family and have therefore subscribed my real name to this.
Twentieth day of May, 1840
John was my third great-grandfather on my mother’s side. For many years, I had no luck finding much about his wife, other than that she was born in 1776, on Long Island, and that her name was Mary. I knew she was the widow of Andrew Eure (or Ure), a Cooper and Scottish immigrant, but nothing more. She was one of my toughest genealogical “brick walls,” until I was contacted by someone who was tracing his descent from Mary’s sister. Finally, I had a name, Mary Wiley! She, too, was of Scottish descent, though, as noted, born in America. I speculate that John boarded with Mary and Andrew, and they married in 1805, a few years after Andrew’s death.
As I have grown to know Wilmington and learn about the Scottish immigrants who arrived here, I think about what it must have been like for him. Alone, sick in mind and body, destitute, he arrived at Brunswick Town, which had been, by that time, abandoned for more than 25 years. Were they simply dumped on the shore, left to find their way to Wilmington? Was there someone there to greet them and offer them aid? How fortunate he was to have found other Scots to give him help!
Mary and John had two sons, Robert Archibald (died age 2) and William Augustus Williams. They are buried in the graveyard at St. James Church. William married Sarah Cloyes Forbes of Boston, a descendant of Daniel Forbes (1620-1687) who was sent to the Massachusetts Colony as a slave after being captured by the English at the Battle of Dunbar. I have often wondered how William and Sarah met, but the Williams family were merchants and thus probably traveled more than most. William and Sarah had six children, including my great-grandfather, William Arthur Williams, who married Jane Iredell Meares.
Incidentally, the Meares family has been in the Cape Fear since about 1730, but that’s an entirely different story. I am happy to be living in the same area that my family has inhabited for nearly 300 years!
Cape Fear Scottish Immigration Memorial Update
After making adjustments to the placement and size of the Memorial, the formal proposal has been placed on the Docket of the next NC Department of Natural and Cultural Resources meeting. The new location is adjacent to the existing event pavilion, a prominent location that will afford us the ability to host events and educational programs with ease. Stay tuned for more information by clicking the button to the left and signing up for the CSFIM email list.
Brought to us by the Scottish Outreach Foundation, a non-profit charity dedicated to preserving Scottish heritage and culture through performing arts and various educational programs.
It's an exciting time for your Society and we have lots of great things planned for 2023 and beyond. As these events approach, you will receive a reminder in your inbox. Please come out and get to know your fellow members. As a gentle reminder, a membership application that can be printed and mailed with a check can be found here.