Celebrating the identity, heritage, & culture of Ulster & the Ulster-Scots (a.k.a. "Scots-Irish") people worldwide!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

End Of An Era 1899.. American View

This is an extract taken from a book 'The End of an Era' by John Sergeant Wise. Published by Houghton,Mifflin and Company Boston and New York 1899.

Shortly prior to 1732, an immense number of Scotch-Irish[Ulster-Scots] and Germans poured into Pennsylvania and the Jerseys. Within thirty years, the population of Pennsylvania increased from about thirty thousand to two hundred and fifty thousand. The Scotsmen, who, for religious liberty, had originally sought the north of Ireland, were the people who saved Ireland to William and Mary from Catholic James. Their loyalty was rewarded by new persecutions for non- conformity, until they resolved to seek asylum in America. So, also, about the same time came to America a great migration of German Lutherans, who were induced to settle in Pennsylvania. The Scotsmen occupied the regions about Princeton, New Jersey, Easton, Carlisle, and Washington. The Germans settled about York, Lancaster, Columbia, and Harrisburg. Governor Logan, himself a Scotch-Irishman,[Ulster-Scot] enforced some laws about 1730 which were so offensive to the Presbyterians and Lutherans that great numbers of them left the Pennsylvania colony, crossed the Potomac west of the Blue Ridge, in the vicinity of Harper's Ferry, entered Virginia, and settled the Blue Ridge valley.

As if by agreement, the two bands separated. The lethargic Germans, as soon as they escaped the Pennsylvania jurisdiction, occupied the lower valley from Harper's Ferry to Harrisonburg. The aggressive Scotch Irish pressed on to the upper valley, then called West Augusta, now divided into the counties of Augusta Rockbridge, Botetourt, Roanoke, and Montgomery. From then until now, the two races have retained possession of and dominated their respective settlements.

And a very striking race of men are these Scotch-Irish so called yet with nothing Irish about them save them for a little while they tarried in Ireland. Hated by Irish because they were Protestants, persecuted by the English because they were Presbyterians, they in turn cordially detested both, and, in our Revolutionary struggles were among the earliest and most intense rebels against the king. For liberty, as they conceived it, whether it was liberty of conscience or liberty of the person, the Scotch-Irishmen and their descendants have never hesitated to sacrifice comfort, fortune, or life. Their mountain origin has always manifested itself by the places they have chosen in their migrations. The few who went to the Puritan settlements of New England soon moved from among them and sought the inhospitable highlands of New Hampshire, where they bestowed on their new settlement the name of Londonderry. The little band who found asylum among the Dutch of New York pressed onward from uncongenial associates to the mountainous frontier, and named the county where they settled Ulster, in memory of their Irish home. Those who wearied of Pennsylvania and went to Virginia avoided the light society of the Cavaliers in Tidewater and Piedmont, preferring the mountain wilds of West Augusta.

Wherever they appeared, they seemed to be seeking for some secluded spot, where, undisturbed by any other sect, they might enjoy liberty unrestrained, and worship God after their own fashion.

And great have they been as pioneers. They populated western New England, northern New York, western Pennsylvania, and the Virginia valley. Then they pressed onward through western North Carolina, even to northern South Carolina. Then they spread westward through Cumberland Gap to the settlement of Kentucky. In later days, their Lewis and their Clarke were the explorers of the Northwest; another Lewis was the first to view Pike's Peak, and even the territory of Texas was in part reclaimed by Sam Houston, son of a Rockbridge County Presbyterian. The pioneer work of the Scotch- Irish has been greater than that of all other races in America combined.

Great also have they been as fighters. John Lewis, their first leader in the Virginia valley, was the terror of the frontier Indians from the day of his arrival. Never after his coming did the Indians come east of the Blue Ridge. Another Scotch- Irishman, Patrick Henry, uttered the immortal sentence, "Give me liberty or give me death."

General Henry Knox, of Revolutionary fame, the only New England representative in Washington's cabinet, was a Scotch-Irishman.

It was the Scotch-Irish of Mecklenburg, North Carolina, who framed the first resolutions embodying the principles of the Declaration of Independence. It was of the Scotch-Irish and their valley home that Washington was speaking when, in the darkest hours of the Revolution, he declared that, if the worst came to the worst, he would retire to the mountain fastnesses of West Augusta, and there, with a few of his brave followers about him, defy forever the power of Great Britain. It was from the same spot that Stonewall Jackson, another of the stock, went forth in our great civil war, followed by his brave men of Scotch-Irish ancestry recruited here, to revive, by his grim prowess and their unshaken valor, the mentors of Old Ironsides and his Presbyterians.

And great have they been as disseminators of learning. They founded the ancient college of New Jersey now known as Princeton University. To their efforts are we indebted for the colleges of La Fayette at Easton and Washington Jefferson College at Washington in Pennsylvania and Liberty Hall Academy, now called Washington and Lee University, at Lexington, Virginia; and Chapel Hill in North Carolina.

And successful politicians and statesmen have they been; for Calhoun, Andrew Jackson, Franklin Pierce, James Buchanan, Ulysses S. Grant, Chester A. Arthur, Grover Cleveland, Benjamin Harrison, and William McKinley were all rich in this Scotch-Irish blood.

In his great work upon the Puritans, Douglass Campbell has admirably sketched the Scotch-Irish. Much has been written of them of late years by writers less distinguished and just now Professor John Fiske, under the title of "Old Virginia and her Neighbors," has published a most interesting account of the great Scotch-Irish migration and its influences on our American civilization.

At Lexington, Virginia, these folk were and are, as their ancestors have been for centuries, men of earnest, thoughtful, and religious natures; simple in their lives to the point of severity, sometimes severe to the point of simplicity; intense in their religious fervor, yet strangely lacking, as it seems to us, in that quality of mercy which is the greatest attribute of religion; loving and possessing education, yet often narrow-minded, in spite of thorough training; almost ascetics in their wants, not bountifully hospitable, but reasonably courteous and considerate towards strangers, and methodically charitable; regarding revelry and dissipation of body or mind as worthy of supreme contempt; of dogged obstinacy, pertinacity, and courage; dominant forces in all things wherein they take a part.

I had heard of their race, and heard them described, long before I went there; and now I was among them, - those old McDowells, and McLaughlins, and McClungs and Jacksons, and Paxtons, and Rosses, and Grahams and Andersons, and Campbells, and Prestons, and Moores and Houstons, and Barclays, and Comptons, and all the tribe of Presbyterians of the valley. All they possessed, and what they were, I curiously scrutinized as a type of humanity wholly new to me.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

From God's Frontiersmen

Excerpt from the book God's Frontiersmen 1989

The popular image of the Ulster Protestant purveyed by much of the world's press and television and by the authors of instant studies of the Irish question is that of a red-faced man, his features contorted,beating a large drum. This simple visual clich'e has been used repeatedly to convey violence,intransigence and bigotry,neat labels under which,in the high speed information world of to-day,a busy journalist can package an entire people. Each television documentary or book on the Ulster troubles offers a history of the so-called native or Catholic Irish but usually nothing on the background of the Protestant people. It is almost as if they were destitue of features,emotions or even intelligent life,without existence in time,a monolith whose only purpose is to be the granite against which the national aspirations of an Irish people are dashed. The intention of this book is to explode that myth.

The ancestors of the Protestant population of Ulster arrived there in a series of immigrations during the seventeenth century,coming from the Scottish Lowlands and Borders and to a lesser extent from various parts of England,as far apart as Lancashire Norfolk and Devon. Within a hundred years they had transformed the north of Ireland from a land composed largely of woods and swamps,interspersed with small areas of modest culivation,into a province with roads,market towns and ports,supported by an increasingly arable system of farming,a thriving cattle trade and a domestic textile industry. Into a country where Catholic medieval values and an indolent pastoral economy pervaded, they brought Calvinastic Protestantism and a stern work ethic.

Although they came into what was an English colony and many of them were originally part of the official settlement of Ulster by the English Crown,the Scots so predominated in numbers,in the toughness of their culture and in the determination with which they acquired land, that the whole Plantation enterprise took on Scottish characteristics and the name 'Ulster Scots' came in time to be applied to the entire non-Irish population of the province which included large numbers of English, much smaller numbers of Welsh and some refugee French Protestants. In America the term 'Scotch-Irish',which had originally been used by Ulster students training for the Presbyterian ministry at Scottish universities,was applied to the Protestant immigrants from Ulster to distinguish them from the Catholic Irish who arrived later. For the purposes of this book,the terms Ulster Scots-or Scotch-Irish are regarded as interchangeable; they are also applied for the sake of identification in chapters dealing with Canada,Australia and New Zealand, lands where these terms would not have been known.

Cowpens & the Presbyterians

Whitelaw Reid, in his 1912 book The Scot in America and the Ulster Scot, writes about Colonial South Carolina and the Scots and Ulster-Scots people who fought for independence:

Two of the most noted battles in South Carolina, where half the population was Uster-Scottish, were those of King’s Mountain and Cowpens. At the first, five of the Colonels were Presbyterian ruling elders, and their troops were mainly recruited from Presbyterian settlements. At the Cowpens, General Morgan, who commanded, and General Pickens were both Presbyterian elders, and most of their troops were Presbyterians. Several other Presbyterian elders held high commands in the same State throughought the war.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Grandpa worked for the railroad

Walter McClain (born in 1927 near Waycross, GA) tells his story about working for the railroad in southern Georgia. He is of Ulster-Scots ancestry.

Click here for the audio (Warning: contains a few curse words)

Fort St Andrew & the Scots in Colonial North America

Many Scots and Ulster-Scots migrated to British North America in the 1700s, following the Puritan and Cavalier migrations. The early stage of this migration is described at this link in Whitelaw Reid's 1912 book The Scot in America and the Ulster Scot.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Happy Birthday Mr President

Happy Birthday Mr President!

Tuesday 15 March has been declared Andrew Jackson Day in Carrickfergus
as the Borough prepares to step back in time to mark the birthday of
the 7th President of the United States with a day of American and
Ulster-Scots themed activities and entertainment.

President Jackson’s family lived in Boneybefore, just outside
Carrickfergus, before they emigrated to Carolina where Andrew was
born. Today The Andrew Jackson Cottage visitors’ centre at Carrick
cements that historic association.

From 2pm – 4pm on Andrew Jackson Day it will be the atmospheric venue
for a series of interpretive tours and re-enactments and the cottage
will ring to the sounds of bluegrass music. From 6.pm – 8.30pm the
free family entertainment will move to the Castle Green in the heart
of Carrickfergus for live music from The Broken String Band and the
Transatlantic Hillbilly Band plus themed arts and crafts activities
for children and a finale fireworks display courtesy of the Army
Benevolent Fund.

The great man himself (a.k.a. actor/ re-enactor Ronald Kane from The
Living History Company) will visit both events.

Looking forward to the day of celebrations, the Mayor Alderman Jim
McClurg said, “All of us in Carrickfergus are of course extremely
proud of the ancestry of the 7th President of the United States, but I
suspect there are still a great many people out there who know very
little about this historic figure – and we’d like to help put that

“Thousands of visitors from right around the world have already passed
though The Andrew Jackson Cottage, enjoying both its authentic
ambience and the opportunity to brush up on a fascinating period of
history. Andrew Jackson’s birthday gives us a great excuse to add
another layer of entertainment and fun to the discovery process and we
are looking forward to a birthday party with a difference – and on a
grand scale.

“We are particularly pleased to have secured the support of The United
States Consulate for this venture and I am sure that the combination
of American and Ulster-Scots traditions will make for a fantastic
day-long party!”

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Disagreement at US Post Office over Ulster

I had an interesting experience at my local post office yesterday with a man who isn't from the South and who displayed a bit of hostility towards Ulster identity.

Click here for the mp3 audio of me telling the story

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Junior Orange Trip to America

County Tyrone Juniors on memorable trip to USA

Members of a County Tyrone Junior Orange recently returned after a memorable trip to the States,during which they visited places with Ulster-Scots links. Three officers and seven boys belonging to Glengeeragh Junior LOL No 257 visited South Carolina,and the trip was made possible by a generous 50 per cent grant from the McCrea Memorial Fund. The party flew from Dublin to Philadelphia and from the 'City of Brotherly Love' to Greenville, South Carolina.

In Greenville, the Ulster party were taken on a historical tour of the city,and this included a museum which had a large section dealing with the immigration of huge numbers of Ulster-Scots families to what were then the British colonies of North America. These hardy settlers,known in America as the Scotch-Irish, settled in the Carolinas, and played a leading role in the American War of Independence, and the early development of the United States.

The Ulster Junior Orangemen were able to attend a baseball match,and on the Sunday,attended Faith Free Presbyterian Church in Greenville, where the minister,the Rev Mercer,is an Ulsterman. The boys and their officers were guests of Mr and Mrs Mercer for dinner following the morning service. The boys were able to take part in water sports in the city's river.

One of the highlights was the visit to several parts of South Carolina which were settled by Ulster-Scots,and they had the opportunity of meeting members of two families,the McMullans and McGarritys, who could trace their links to N.I. Another high point of the visit was a tour of the historic city of Charleston,with many historic buildings, and modern facilities, including swimming pools and beaches. The officers and boys were overwhelmed by the hospitality of the people they met, and said their bus driver who was called Barney, a born-again Christian, was a great help.

On their return to Ulster, the party were the centre of attraction at an event held in Glenageeragh Orange Hall. The boys were interviewed, and a short tape of the trip was shown.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Virginia, Ulster and the Reivers

From a booklet about the Elliott Clan and the Border Reivers... with thanks to my daughter.


The death of Queen Elizabeth 1 set the Borders alight. Both Scots and English tried to do as much damage as possible to each other without fear of retribution. Robert Ellot, 17th Chief, invaded England with almost 400 horseman carrying battle flags. Several other clans followed their example. Unfortunately James succeeded to the united throne much faster than anticipated and declared the Borders were no longer the extremities of the two kingdoms but the middle of one United Kingdom. All laws and usage of the Borders were declared finished and the peculiar justiciary system that had existed for over 400 years was swept away. James V1, that ungainly, unlikely King,succeeded in pacifying the Borders as he had the Highlands where his predecessors had failed.

The King's authority was stamped on the Borders and the first crop of executions resulted in thirty two Elliots, Armstrongs,and Johnstons going to the gallows. Iron gates were orderd removed from the old peel towers and turned into plough shares,arms were banned, and horses forbidden to have saddles. Forcible emigration to Ulster began, as did transportation overseas for the King declared, ''the most notorious and lewd persons on the Middle March are to be sent to Virginia.

The Elliots had fought in more than their fair share of all the Border battles. They were to suffer most in the forcible pacification that followed. Thirty of their towers in Liddlesdale were destroyed. One third of all the Borderers banished from Scotland were Elliots and over 3,500 of the name were living in Ulster in 1900. Many were transported to the Virginian plantations. The last major hanging of Border reivers took place in 1609,and when the Elliots made a final raid against the Robsons in Tynedale in 1611 this really marked the end of a traditional way of life.

Click here to visit the Ulster Virginia website