Posts Tagged ‘Scotland’

Flora MacDonald

All this month we’re bringing you stories from North Carolina women’s history. Check back here each week day for a new tidbit on the women of our state’s past.

Famous heroine Flora MacDonald was born in Scotland in 1722. Since little is known about MacDonald’s early life, much of it has become something of a folktale.

While still in Scotland, MacDonald became involved in a plot to help usher Prince Charles Edward Stuart to safety after the failed Jacobite Rebellion of 1745. She traveled with the prince who was disguised as her servant. For her part in the escape, she was imprisoned for about a year.  By the time of her release MacDonald had become a celebrity both at home in Scotland and abroad, though she maintained throughout her life that she helped the fugitive as she would help any person in need.

Immigrating to North Carolina in 1774, she and her husband made their home near Pekin, in what is now Montgomery County.  True to the allegiance to the crown that the couple demonstrated in Scotland, Allen MacDonald took up arms with other Highlanders bound for the Battle of Moore’s Creek Bridge as the Revolutionary War began to heat up. Allen, a son and a son-in-law were all captured and imprisoned in Philadelphia. MacDonald endured hardship and illness, and her North Carolina property was confiscated. She eventually returned home to Scotland where she died in 1790.

Read more about the Highland Scots in North Carolina on NCpedia.

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I am just back from a trip to Scotland.  It was a dream vacation for me—a return to the land of my forefathers, so to speak.  My grandmother’s family tree was bursting with “Mc’s.”  The photo that I share is appropriate to my blog—it is of me and my son at the Clava Cairns, a site with prehistoric burial cairns and standing stones near Inverness.

The Clava Cairns near Inverness are truly a step back in time.

But, after visiting castles, battlefields, and lochs, I was having a hard time concentrating on a North Carolina travel topic.  And, then I thought of North Carolina’s own rich Scottish heritage.  Many Scottish emigrants, Highland, Lowland, and Ulster (Scots-Irish), have made an impact on our state.

One of Scotland’s most beloved heroines, Flora MacDonald, lived in North Carolina for awhile. There is no shortage of reminders of the Scottish influence in North Carolina:  place names, pipe and drum bands, highland games, and heritage societies.  The Museum of the Cape Fear in Fayetteville interprets that area’s strong Scottish history.  The Scottish Tartans Museum in Highlands showcases the history of Scottish tartans and Highland clothing.

A great way to get a taste of Scotland without having to take a trans-Atlantic flight is to check out some of the Highland games that occur around North Carolina throughout the year.  Among the events are the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games, the Triad Highland Games, the Rural Hill Scottish Festival & Loch Norman Highland Games, and the Scotland County Highland Games.

I will be back to reality next week with more North Carolina history—posts will become more occasional, focusing on special events and happenings—as the summer travel season comes to a close.

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