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Fact or Fiction? Jamie Fraser & North Carolina Land Grants

August 16, 2019

Guest post from Traci Thompson

“It has long been the policy both of the Crown and of myself, Mr. Fraser, to encourage the settlement of land in the Colony of North Carolina by intelligent, industrious, and godly families, to the furtherance of the prosperity and security of all.” He lifted his cigar, took a deep lungful and exhaled slowly, pausing to cough. “To this end, sir, there is established a system of land grants whereby a large acreage may be given to a gentleman of means, who will undertake to persuade a number of emigrants to come and settle upon a part of it under his sponsorship. This policy has been blessed with success over the last thirty years; a good many Highlanders and families from the Isles of Scotland have been induced to come and take up residence here. Why, when I arrived, I was astonished to find the banks of the Cape Fear River quite thick with MacNeills, Buchanans, Grahams, and Campbells!”

The Governor tasted his cigar again, but this time the barest nip; he was anxious to make his point.


“Yet there remains a great deal of desirable land to be settled, further inland towards the mountains. It is somewhat remote, and yet, as you say, for men accustomed to the far reaches of the Scottish Highlands – “


“I did hear mentions of such grants, sir,” Jamie interrupted. “Yet is not the wording that persons holding such grants shall be white males, Protestant, and above thirty years of age? And this statement holds the force of law?”


“That is the official wording of the Act, yes.” Mr. Tryon turned so that I saw him now in profile, tapping the ash from his cigar into a small porcelain bowl. The corner of his mouth was turned up in anticipation; the face of a fisherman who feels the first twitch on his line.


“The offer is one of considerable interest,” Jamie said formally. “I must point out, however, that I am not a Protestant, nor are most of my kinsmen.”


The Governor pursed his lips in deprecation, lifting one brow.


“You are neither a Jew nor a Negro. I may speak as one gentleman to another, may I not? In all frankness, Mr. Fraser, there is the law, and then there is what is done.” He raised his glass with a small smile, setting the hook. “And I am convinced that you understand that as well as I do.”


“Possibly better,” Jamie murmured, with a polite smile.

~Drums of Autumn, Chapter 7, “Great Prospects Fraught With Peril.” (Circa 1767)

These paragraphs from Drums of Autumn introduced a long-running source of conflict for the story by giving Governor Tryon a certain leverage over Jamie – if Jamie doesn’t toe the line with Tryon, will Tryon play the religion card, “expose” Jamie as a Catholic, and take his land away from him?

But how much weight does this threat really carry…and are the details historical fact, or historical fiction?

First, as a land grant is central to the story, let’s take a brief look at what a North Carolina land grant was. Although “land grant” is the term often used, the technical term was “land patent.” Land patents transferred vacant land from a granting authority to a private person. North Carolina patents did not convey “free” land; grants were for some kind of service to the colony, or for a required payment of fees. There were two land grant systems in North Carolina: one was headright patents, in which land was granted for the service of bringing settlers into the colony, with a certain number of acres granted per transported person. This system ended by 1754, before Jamie and Claire’s time in NC. The second was purchase patent, land in exchange for fees paid at every step in the process. By the mid-1750’s, this was the only kind of patent granted in North Carolina, and thus the kind of grant Jamie would have received if he were really here in the 1760s.(1)



There were in fact a few, but not many, of enterprises such as Tryon describes: “…a large acreage may be given to a gentleman of means, who will undertake to persuade a number of emigrants to come and settle upon a part of it under his sponsorship.
” These were a type of headright patent, as the stipulation was bringing in emigrants to populate the colony. Harry Merrens states in Colonial North Carolina in the Eighteenth Century, “Grants were generally small…A few persons did manage to obtain large quantities of land either for speculative purposes or for building up large estates. Extensive holdings of land were so rare that neither practice was common…”(2)

The most notable person who engaged in this rare land speculation in NC was Henry McCulloh, a London merchant and colonial official whose family roots were in Scotland. He received two grants in his own name of 60,000 and 72,000 acres, and a third under the names of two of his trustees for 1.2 million acres. The condition of these grants was that quitrents on the lands be paid, and that settlers be installed on the land (3):

“At a Council held at Wilmington [NC] the 24th day September 1741… His Excellency having informed the Board That it was His Majesty’s Pleasure signified in some of his Majesty’s Instructions to Mr. McCulloh, that for the future all persons taking up lands should be obliged to seat the same according to their rights, i.e. with the person in whose right the land shall be taken up; But that such as have already obtained Warrants, shall only be obliged within three years from the date of their respective Grants to put a white man on every Tract 1,000 acres or under And two on a tract of 2,000 or above a thousand…And that the Secretary draw up a proclamation to give publick notice thereof…His Excellency…took notice of the absolute necessity of encouraging white persons to settle in this Province particularly the back parts of the same…” (4)

Pamphlet by Henry McCulloh, which he wrote after returning to England, hoping to impress the King, and get another appointment to the Colonies. (from NCPedia)

Merrens calls McCulloh “the unrivaled leading speculator in North Carolina” and reports that he was “’hawking it [the land] about in small quantities thro’ all the back parts of the Province and quite thro’ America even to Boston’”(5) as well as transporting Ulster Scots and Swiss emigrants into the colony.

But what of the “Protestant” requirement? McCulloh’s petitions for his grants in the 1730s do include wording such as “…Praying for a Grant of Twelve hundred Thousand Acres of Land in North Carolina in Consideration of Settling 6000 Protestants…” (6) and “…praying for a Grant of Lands upon the heads of the Pedee Cape Fear and Neus Rivers in North Carolina, and proposing to make a Settlement thereon of six thousand Swiss Palatines and other Foreign Protestants within the space of Ten years from the Date of {the} Grant…” (7) Other earlier petitions have the same wording, such as a 1679 petition to the British Privy Council to transport “about 80 Protestant families to Carolina aboard the frigate Richmond” and a request from Normandy seeking “sanction and assistance in projected planting of about fourscore Foreign Protestant families, being skilled in the Manufactures of Silks, Oyles, Wines, etc. who are willing to settle in Carolina.” (8) What is the reason for this? The religious situation in Europe was one of many reasons for emigration during this period, especially the desire to seek freedom of worship. Speculators such as Henry McCulloh were aware of the need to transport Protestants – particularly Scots-Irish, Swiss, and Germans – to the colonies. And as the Crown needed settlers and revenue, this was a win-win situation for all involved. (9) Another consideration for the Crown may have been loyalty, as Protestants were less likely to have divided allegiances. The greater number of Protestant settlers in North Carolina led to the statement made by the real Governor Tryon in 1765 that “every sect of religion abounds here except Roman Catholicism.” (10)

What is important to realize is that these references to settlement of Protestants in North Carolina did not refer to land law. In fact, North Carolina, especially as compared to the other colonies, was liberal in regards to religion. While there certainly was anti-Catholic sentiment, the only specific discrimination against them in legal policy regarded holding public office, and instructions given to the Royal Governor in the 1730s to permit “a liberty of conscience to all persons (except papists).” (11) It is likely that such instructions fell under Governor Tryon’s assertion that “there is the law, and then there is what is done,” as many such instructions relating to the Church of England were never able to be enforced in North Carolina. In 1679, the instructions of the Lords Proprietors to the Governor of Albemarle County, NC stated, “You are to take notice that wee doe grant unto all free persons that doe come to plant in Carolina before the 25th day of December, 1684…sixty akers of land…” and makes no mention of religion. (12) And not all of the land speculators’ petitions included the “Protestant” wording – McCulloh’s proposal of 1735/6 mentions sending over workmen and “such people as I intend to send there from Europe” to North Carolina and does not mention religion. (13)

A far more important consideration to the Crown regarding land patents was, as with most enterprises, money. Much of the energy and focus of the government documents relating to land grants of the period revolve around revenue generated or, most notably, the lack thereof. Even money took a back seat at times to the pressing need to simply have people in the colonies; in 1715, by decree from London, even impoverished families that could not pay rent were not to be deprived of their land, and those that had been were to have their property restored. (14) Also, land grants were a clear title in fee simple; the owner could sell or devise land absolutely at his pleasure and without consultation with government officials. (15)

These questions having been discussed, what of the age requirement? The 1679 document mentioned earlier made the specific provision for “sixty akers of land” to any free person who was “above the age of sixteen yeares.” (16) North Carolina, being an English colony, followed English common law; under English law one could buy or be granted land at any age but could not sell it in his own name until he arrived at the age of 21. (17)

As this overview shows, populating the colony and generating revenue were important considerations to North Carolina officials of the colonial period. To purposely attempt to divest a settler of his land would run contrary to the goal and would in fact be illegal; to do this for religious reasons in a tolerant colony would be difficult if not impossible, and there was no legal age restriction on land ownership. Happily, were Jamie actually here in the 1760s, he would not have had these issues to worry about.

The case: Are the details historical fact, or historical fiction?
Verdict: FICTION.

There you have it–straight from a North Carolina genealogist’s pen! Thanks, Traci, for this insight about land grants and the many different cultures that emigrated and settled here to make up this great state!
Traci Thompson is a married mother of two who lives in eastern North Carolina, and is, of course, an avid Outlander fan.  Traci is a Certified Genealogist and Local History & Genealogy Librarian. She is a contributing author for Outlander North Carolina.

Still shots of Jamie/Gov. Tryon are from https://outlander-online.com

Reference notes:
1 Margaret M. Hofmann, “Land Grants,” in Helen F.M. Leary, editor, North Carolina Research: Genealogy and Local History, 2nd edition (Raleigh, NC: North Carolina Genealogical Society, 1996), chapter 31.
2 Harry Roy Merrens, Colonial North Carolina in the Eighteenth Century: A Study in Historical Geography (Chapel Hill, NC: UNC Press, 1964), p. 25-26.
3 Mattie Russell, “McCulloh, Henry,” NCPedia (https://www.ncpedia.org/biography/mcculloh-henry : accessed 2019), citing William S. Powell, ed., The Dictionary of North Carolina Biography (Chapel Hill, NC: UNC Press, 1991.)
4 “Minutes of the North Carolina Governor’s Council, September 21, 1741 – September 29, 1741,” “Colonial and State Records of North Carolina,” Documenting the American South, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (https://docsouth.unc.edu/csr/index.php/document/csr04-0177 : accessed 2019); citing volume 4, p. 597-603
5 Merrens, Colonial North Carolina in the Eighteenth Century: A Study in Historical Geography, p. 26.
6 “Declaration by Murray Crymble and James Huey concerning their actions as agents for Henry McCulloh,” in “Colonial and State Records of North Carolina,” Documenting the American South, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (https://docsouth.unc.edu/csr/index.php/document/csr05-0289 : accessed 2019); citing volume 5, p. 769.
7 “Order of the Privy Council of Great Britain concerning Henry McCulloh’s land grants in North Carolina,” Great Britain, Privy Council, May 19, 1737, in “Colonial and State Records of North Carolina,” Documenting the American South, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (https://docsouth.unc.edu/csr/index.php/document/csr05-0289 : accessed 2019); citing volume 4, p. 253-254.
8 Finding aid to the British Records: Privy Council, citing Office Register, 21 April 1679-29 May 1680, Public Record Office, London, England, P.C. 2/68, North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh; digital images (https://files.nc.gov/dncrarchives/documents/files/ffa_br_privycouncil.pdf : accessed 2019).
9 Stewart E. Dunaway, Henry McCulloh & Son Henry Eustace McCulloh: 18th Century Entrepreneurs, Land Speculators of North Carolina (Lulu.com: Dunaway, 2014), p. 16.
10 Anne Russell & Marjorie Megivern, North Carolina Portraits of Faith: A Pictorial History of Religions (Norfolk, VA: The Donning Company, 1986), p. 136.
11 “Instructions to George Burrington concerning the government of North Carolina George II, King of Great Britain, 1683-1760; Great Britain. Board of Trade,” in “Colonial and State Records of North Carolina,” Documenting American South, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (https://docsouth.unc.edu/csr/index.php/document/csr03-0060 : accessed 2019); citing volume 3, p. 90-118.
12 “Instructions to the Governor of Albemarle County Carolina. Lords Proprietors. February 05, 1679,” in “Colonial and State Records of North Carolina,” Documenting the American South , University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (https://docsouth.unc.edu/csr/index.php/document/csr01-0098: accessed 2019); citing volume 1, p. 235-239.
13 “Proposal by Henry McCulloh concerning his efforts to settle people in North Carolina,” in “Colonial and State Records of North Carolina,” Documenting the American South , University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (https://docsouth.unc.edu/csr/index.php/document/csr05-0289 : accessed 2019); citing volume 4, p. 156.
14 David Southern and Louis P. Towles, “Land Grants and the Recruitment of Settlers to the Carolina Colony,” NCPedia (https://www.ncpedia.org/land-grants-part-3-land-grants-and : accessed 2019), citing William S. Powell, ed., Encyclopedia of North Carolina (Chapel Hill, NC: UNC Press, 2006.)
15 George Stevenson, “Foreword” (Raleigh, NC, June 1982) to Margaret M. Hofmann, Colony of North Carolina, 1735-1764, Abstracts of Land Patents Volume One (Weldon, NC: Roanoke News Company, 1982).
16 “Instructions to the Governor of Albemarle County. Carolina. Lords Proprietors. February 05, 1679,” in “Colonial and State Records of North Carolina,” Documenting the American South, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (https://docsouth.unc.edu/csr/index.php/document/csr01-0098 : accessed 2019); citing volume 1, p. 235-239.
17 Lee Albright & Helen F.M. Leary, “Strategy for Land Records,” p. 43, in Helen F.M. Leary, editor, North Carolina Research: Genealogy and Local History, 2nd edition (Raleigh, NC: North Carolina Genealogical Society, 1996), chapter 2, “Designing Research Strategies.”

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From Scotland to North Carolina~Part 2:Why North Carolina?

July 3, 2019

guest post from Traci Thompson

In past blog posts, we’ve looked at the circumstances that led to many Highland Scots emigrating from Scotland. Our next question is, why did they immigrate to North Carolina? 

A major impetus appears to be Gabriel Johnston, a Lowland Scot who served as Governor of North Carolina from 1734 to 1752. “He felt it would be good for the future of the Cape Fear Valley for it to be settled by large numbers of Protestant Highland Scots, so he began writing enthusiastic letters to friends in Scotland, inviting them to come to a land where there were two crops each year…land grants and possible exemption from taxation for time.” [Douglas F. Kelly, Carolina Scots (Dillon, SC: 1739 Publications, 1998), p.82-83.] 

Gabriel Johnston’s Coat of Arms bookplate

Not everyone was enthusiastic about Governor Johnston’s partiality, however. “Among other charges brought against the Governor [in 1748] was his inordinate fondness for his brother Scotchmen, even Scotch rebels. His partiality for this latter class of Scotchmen, it was said, was so great, and his lack of joy at the king’s ‘glorious victory at Culloden’ was so conspicuous, that he was accused of a want of fealty to the House of Hanover…” Nevertheless, “…like other Scotchmen, he was fond of the people of his native country, and sought to better their condition by inducing them to emigrate to North Carolina…” [William L. Saunders, ed., The Colonial Records of North Carolina, Volume IV, 1734-1752 (Raleigh, NC: P.M. Hale, 1886), prefatory notes, p. ix-x.] 

There were some Scots living in the colony earlier; before 1700, several Lowland Scots were present, and it is believed that Highlanders were living in the Cape Fear area as early as 1725. After Governor Johnston began to promote immigration into the colony, the first large group of Highlanders disembarked in September 1739. A party of 350 from Argyllshire, they made their way up the Cape Fear to settle in the Cross Creek area; the Cape Fear was convenient due to the ports of Brunswick and Wilmington, and the river for transportation farther upstream. In February 1740, two of the leaders of the Argyllshire colony appeared before the Colonial Legislature asking for special consideration for ”themselves and several other Scotch Gentlemen and several poor people brought into this province” and for “substantial encouragement, that they might be able to induce the rest of their friends and acquaintances to come over.” The Upper House responded favorably with tax exemptions and land grants, and the immigration to North Carolina continued. [Saunders, p. viii-ix; Duane Meyer, The Highland Scots of North Carolina (Raleigh, NC: Carolina Charter Tercentenary Commission, 1963), chapter III, “Settlement”; R.D.W. Connor, History of North Carolina, Vol. I (Chicago, IL: Lewis Publishing Co., 1919); digital transcription, http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Gazetteer/Places/America/United_States/North_Carolina/_Tex ts/CBHHNC/1/10*.html : accessed 2018.] 

Names associated with the 1739 party include McNeil, Forbes, Hamilton, Jones, and Campbel. “At a meeting of the council held at Wilmington, June 4, 1740, there were presented petitions for patents of lands, by the following persons, giving acres and location, as granted.” Note the prevalence of Highland names – do you recognize any from Outlander? 

Name. Acres. County.
Thos Clarks 320 N. Hanover
James McLachlan 160 Bladen
Hector McNeil 300
Duncan Campbell 150
James McAlister 640
James McDugald 640
Duncan Campbell 75
Hugh McCraine 500
Duncan Campbell 320
Gilbert Pattison 640
Rich Lovett 855 Tyrrel
Rd Earl 108 N. Hanover
Jno McFerson 320 Bladen
Duncan Campbell 300
Neil McNeil 150
Duncan Campbell 140
Jno Clark 320
Malcolm McNeil 320
Neil McNeil 400
Arch Bug 320
Duncan Campbel 640 Bladen
Jas McLachlen 320
Murdock McBraine 320
Jas Campbel 640
Patric Stewart 320
Arch Campley 320
Dan McNeil 105; 400
Neil McNeil 400
Duncan Campbel 320
Jno Martileer 160
Daniel McNeil 320
Wm Stevens 300
Dan McNeil 400
Jas McLachlen 320
Wm Speir ? Edgecombe
Jno Clayton 100 Bladen
Sam Portevint 640 N. Hanover
Charles Harrison 320
Robt Walker 640
Jas Smalwood 640
Wm Faris 400; 640
Richd Canton 180 Craven
Duncan Campbel 150 Bladen
Neil McNeil 321
Alex McKey 320
Henry Skibley 320
Jno Owen 200
Duncan Campbel 400
Dougal Stewart 640
Arch Douglass 200 N. Hanover
James Murray 320
Robt Clark 200
Duncan Campbel 148 Bladen
James McLachlen 320
Arch McGill 500
Jno Speir 100 Edgecombe
James Fergus 640
Rufus Marsden 640
Hugh Blaning 320 (surplus land) Bladen
Robt Hardy 400 Beaufort
Wm Jones 354; 350

“Occasionally, a list of emigrants has been preserved in the minutes of the official proceedings. Hence it may be read that on November 4, 1767, there landed at Brunswick, from the Isle of Jura, Argyle-shire, Scotland, the following names of families and persons, to whom were allotted vacant lands, clear of all fees, to be taken up in Cumberland or Mecklenburgh counties, at their option: 

Names of land grantees

These names show they were from Argyleshire, and probably from the Isle of Mull, and the immediate vicinity of the present city of Oban.” 

Those who came to Carolina and prospered wrote letters home, and thus word of mouth became a catalyst for emigration. “There was in fact a Carolina mania which was not broken until the beginning of the Revolution. The flame of enthusiasm passed like wildfire through the Highland glens and Western Isles.” [J.P. MacLean, An Historical Account of the Settlements of Scotch Highlanders in America… (Glasgow, Scotland: John McKay, 1900), Chapter 5, “Highlanders in North Carolina”; digital transcription, Electric Scotland (https://www.electricscotland.com/history/highlands/chapter5.htm : accessed 2018]. 

Drawing of the port at Charleston, SC, where many Scots first
set foot in the New Land.

As a result, “Shipload after shipload of sturdy Highland settlers sailed for the shores of America, and most of them landing at Charleston and Wilmington found their way to their kinsmen on the Cape Fear. In a few years their settlements were thickly scattered throughout the territory now embraced in the counties of Anson, Bladen, Cumberland, Harnett, Moore, Richmond, Robeson, Sampson, Hoke, and Scotland…The Scot’s Magazine, in September, 1769, records that the ship Molly had recently sailed from Islay filled with passengers for North Carolina, and that this was the third emigration from that county within six years. The same journal in a later issue tells us that between April and July, 1770, fifty-four vessels sailed from the Western Isles laden with 1,200 Highlanders all bound for North Carolina. In 1771, the Scot’s Magazine stated that 500 emigrants from Islay and the adjacent islands were preparing to sail for America, and later in the same year Governor Tryon wrote that ‘several ship loads of Scotch families’ had ‘landed in this province within three years past from the Isles of Arran, Durah, Islay, and Gigah, but chief of them from Argyle Shire and are mostly settled in Cumberland County.’ Their number he estimated ‘at 1,600 men, women, and children.’ A year later the ship Adventure brought a cargo of 200 emigrants from the Highlands to the Cape Fear, and in March of the same year Governor Martin wrote to Lord Hillsborough, secretary of state for the colonies: ‘Near a thousand people have arrived in Cape Fear River from the Scottish Isles since the month of November with a view to settling in this province whose prosperity and strength will receive great augmentation by the accession of such a number of hardy, laborious and thrifty people.’” [Connor, http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Gazetteer/Places/America/United_States/North_Carolina/_Tex ts/CBHHNC/1/10*.html: accessed 2018]. 

Such massive immigration to North Carolina has led to claims that the state now has more descendants of Scots than has present-day Scotland. In summary, favorable reports, support of the crown and governor, and financial incentives all conspired to make the ship route of Scotland to the Cape Fear a major migration pattern. As MacLean poetically described the aftermath of Culloden, 

“Left without chief, or protector, clanship broken up, homes destroyed and kindred murdered, dispirited, outlawed, insulted and without hope of palliation or redress, the only ray of light pointed across the Atlantic where peace and rest were to be found in the unbroken forests of North Carolina.”

Traci, thank you so much for this history lesson! Traci is our resident historian and genealogist! Learn more about the Scots heading inland along the Cape Fear River! Do you have ancestors that began in the Cape Fear Region? Tell us about it!

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My Trip Down the Rabbit Hole of the 2018 Grandfather Mountain Highland Games

June 26, 2019

guest post from Mitzie Munroe

The world of Outlander can be sourced as the inspiration for a number of newly-acquired Scottish-related interests, especially amongst fans. In my family’s case, most particularly, it would be our recent interest in learning more about our Scottish ancestry. We are most notably Munroes. Originally Munro, the “e” was added some time before my husband’s great-grandfather arrived in the US. His Scottish lineage has strong ties in that our first born son had to take the name Angus (either first or middle) to keep with family tradition that goes back hundreds of years. No pressure right? But how does one help their son who carries such a strong Scottish name understand why it was important that we give him that name?

Grandfather Mountain Highland Games, credit gmhg.org

Being an avid Outlander reader and show viewer, I have not only started taking note of all the locations mentioned that are related to actual historical sites, but also the Scottish families that are woven into Diana’s world. Her storylines detail the true migration that some of these families made before and after Culloden and found their way to North Carolina.

These emigrated families are directly responsible for shaping our home state of North Carolina, and their influence can still be felt today. One of the most notable ways is the yearly gathering of Scottish-descended clans at the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games (GMHG) in Linville, North Carolina. Every year, for over 60 years, on the second full weekend in July, people travel from all over to attend this four-day event that has everything from music concerts to cultural lectures, demonstrations like piping and Highland dancing to sporting competitions, specialty food vendors to Highland crafters. Attending this amazing event is on many people’s bucket lists, and last year it was time that I finally see for myself what all the buzz was about and hope that my sons learn a bit about their ancestry.

The first decision that needed to be made was whether or not we wanted to camp on the grounds. This, I have heard, is a major attraction for a number of returning attendees. The camaraderie that forms in the campgrounds during the games is what brings people back year after year. It’s like a mini festival within the Games itself! Seeing as we had teenage boys attending with us and none are accustomed to being without creature comforts for more than a day, we decided to stay in one of the many cabins available for rent all around the mountain and also just a short drive from the Games. Some of the nearby towns, Linville, Banner Elk, Seven Devils, Valle Crucis, Boone and Blowing Rock having ample accommodations available, and we decided on a cabin in Valle Crucis. Not only are the GMHG a huge draw to this area, but also the many other sites that are a must-see if you find yourself in the area. We wanted to drop in at the original and famous Mast General Store that is located in Valle Crucis.  Not to mention one of our favorite wineries, Grandfather Vineyard & Winery, was just a short drive from our cabin, either going to or driving back from the Games, but it is the Games that are the true draw for us.

Enjoying some vino from Grandfather Vineyard & Winery by the Watauga River.

The first day (Thursday) was opening day with a few highlights: Highland dance performances, sheepdog demonstrations, a leisurely picnic and the beginning of the 5K Bear Foot Race that has runners start at the base of Grandfather Mountain and end at the top! I had hopes of running this race as one of my My Peak Challenge goals, but soon found that this race was a bit “unbearable” for me at the time, so contented myself with cheering on those amazing athletes as they funneled through MacRae Meadows before continuing up the mountain.

The definitive highlight, though, is the Opening Ceremony and Calling of the Clans. Come twilight, a representative of each of the attending Clans muster together in preparation for the Torch Lighting Ceremony. It’s at this time too that a reverie of pipers take the track and starts the mountain singing. There’s nothing quite like hearing the sound of the pipes announcing the opening of these Games!

Friday is the first full day of the Games. The mountain comes alive with Highland dance competitions, piping competitions, musical performances in the groves, cultural lectures and exhibitions like the Scottish Cultural Village and much more.

photo credits: GMHG: Rob Randall, James Shaffer, Mike Lacey

Though droves of people come to the Games for the event itself,  we were excited about taking a stroll through Clan Row and getting acquainted with our new-found friends at the Munro tent. I had become acquainted with a few of our US chapter representatives via email and was excited to not only pop in to say hi, but to learn what it is to be a member of a sponsoring clan or society. Those that find they have connections to a particular Scottish clan can visit that clan’s tent and learn about membership opportunities, make genealogical connections, learn about their own events, or simply find interesting information.

While hanging with our fellow Munros, we learned that Clan Munro is one of a handful of clans that still provide scholarships to young men and women who want to learn and perpetuate the Scottish arts of Highland dancing and piping. Recent scholarship winners were stopping by the tent to accept their certificates and took the opportunity to thank the organization for the award. Another interesting fun fact about Clan Munro is that the family seat of Foulis Castle in the parish of Kiltearn, Ross and Cromarty, Scotland is still a working estate that grows barley that just happens to be used for making whisky by Glenmorangie distilleries. Needless to say, we came away with a new appreciation for that particular brand of whisky and I am proud that the Munros have that affiliation! 

Competitions and demonstrations draw to a close by late afternoon in preparation for the highly anticipated Celtic rock concert on the grounds that evening. Our day ended with a bit of exploration of the surrounding areas and just kicking back and relaxing at our cabin.

Saturday is typically the busiest and most popular day of the Games. Attendance reaches max capacity and unless you have a coveted patron pass that allows you to park on the Mountain, you will have an adventure taking one of the area shuttles that winds its way up the mountain to MacRae Meadow. We started our day early, for there was still so much to see and hear. With the majority of the piping competitions concluded (and I can attest that my ears were still ringing with piping music come morning!) the highlights were the field competitions, concerts in the grove, and I was anxious for a special guest to arrive; being an avid fan of the Outlander television series, I was very excited to have had the opportunity to meet David Berry, who was a guest at the Clan Outlander tent!

David Berry, Outlander’s Lord John Gray, and an ecstatic me!

But of course my day’s excitement didn’t stop there (though how do you top meeting David Berry?!). I had the opportunity to be fitted for authentic Highland attire at one of the vendor tents. I had long desired having an outfit that I can wear during one of my many planned events where period clothing is not only welcomed, but expected. I found myself at the Wolfstone Kilt Company tent and fell in love with all of the beautifully-made garments on display for both men and women. One of the wonderful ladies that creates these amazing pieces actually did the fitting, and I can’t recommend enough the importance of having this done. Starting from scratch, I was on the market for not only the basics, but for universal items as well. When I finally pulled myself out of there, (wallet lighter and me heavier), I was donning my new shift, lovely stays, bumroll, stomacher (I chose one with bees in anticipation for Diana’s next book Go Tell The Bees That I Am Gone), full skirt in the Wolfstone tartan, jacket and a fishu. I spent the remainder of my day wearing my new Highland attire with pride, but boy, it was it a joy taking it all off when I got back to the cabin! I have such a new-found admiration for the women of the time who not only wore these items all day but while also performing their daily work. 

My wonderful period costume from Wolfstone Kilt Co. Don’t you just love my BEES stomacher?!

Sunday is the day Grandfather Mountain gives a long sigh as the Games draw to a close, but not before a few more field competitions are completed, the kids races commence and the Parade of Tartans. Any attendees that wish to walk with their representing clans gather around the outer ring of the track to take a stroll around the inner track, arrive in front of the announcer’s stage and have their clan announced to the crowd. 

Myself and my family dressed out in our Munro tartan for this occasion and I have to admit I found myself carrying a new sense of pride in being able to truly call myself a Munro while walking with my new “family” and friends!

As our week at the 2018 GMHG came to a close, we said our goodbyes to our friends and to the Mountain, and we decided then that we would come back again, and I have been eagerly counting down the months, weeks, and now days, until the 2019 event.

A year has gone by and in that time we have had another season of Outlander. It was in this season that we got to see Roger and Bree attend these very games set in 1970 in an episode entitled “The False Bride.” While the writers took certain liberties when creating their version of the games, many scenes did have a factual foundation. Bree and Roger traveled to North Carolina for a Scottish festival in the vicinity of Fraser’s Ridge which does coincide with the GMHG’s long standing location. Their festival was full of dancing, music and games; just like our games. Even the calling of the clans and burning of the stag fits right in with our modern games (substitute a the tower of torches for the show’s wicker stag). I have delusions of hoping to find Roger at this year’s Games singing his version of “I Once Loved a Lass.”

Not only do we have this comparison, but we also had Diana’s version of a Highland Gathering in The Fiery Cross. I will have to leave it to the history books to confirm any of the comparisons of this 1770 gathering to what may have transpired in the past, but a little birdie did tell me that in the coming season of Outlander we will see the Frasers attending The Gathering at Mount Helicon (aka Grandfather Mountain).

This year’s Games will no doubt be another memorable event for me and my family. We have decided to explore a new area around Grandfather and rented a cabin in Seven Devils this year. We also decided to purchase the Highlander Patron package to better experience this year’s Games with being able to attend the reception banquet, whisky tasting, secured parking and a few other perks.  I’m also looking forward to possibly seeing another Outlander cast member, Gary Lewis, who played the role of Colum MacKenzie. While he leads Clan Outlander around the track, I hope I have the opportunity to hear him shout “Tùlach Àrd”!

The mountains are calling and I must go–I hope to see you all there!

Thank you, Mitzie, for sharing your first GMHG experience with us!

Have you ever been to the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games? Are you planning on going this Summer?

NC Historic Sites Outlander North Carolina Scottish Immigration

Celtic Festival at Historic Latta Plantation

March 22, 2019

Outlander North Carolina was privileged to be a part of the Celtic Festival at Latta Plantion in Huntersville, NC on March 16 & 17, 2019! We had a wonderful time, met some Facebook group members, and really enjoyed talking Outlander “shop” with all of our new friends. We hope we made some new Outlander converts as we shared our love of the Fraser’s North Carolina.

Our booth/tent was filled with wonderful sights and scents, as we had Jamie and Claire there for photo opportunities, and offered exclusive Outlander NC-inspired candles (handmade right here in NC!), as well as special edition ONC suncatchers and stemless wine glasses. Festival goers entered their names in our giveaway for an amazing Outlander item-filled basket, and the winner was Belen Molins! Thanks to all who stopped by to say hello!

The theme of our booth was a rustic cabin, and everyone worked hard to make it look absolutely amazing! Thanks so much to Carolyn Baker, Stephanie Bryant (of Outlander Print Shop), Nancy Roach (whose alter ego is the White Sow on Twitter!), and Mitzie Munroe for helping me create an inviting stop for visitors to come and browse and pose with the Frasers or by the “fireplace.”

There were so many things to do and enjoy at the Celtic Festival, from Viking reenactors, a friendly shinty game between the NC 71st and 84th Highland Regiments, cooking demonstrations, reenactors’ encampents, Latta Plantation building tours, dancing, traditional music, and an Outlander Party! Saying it was a fun-filled weekend is an understatement! Thanks to everyone at Latta Plantation for giving us this amazing opportunity!

Please enjoy these photos, with contributions from Mitzie Munroe, Connie McKenzie, Lisa Margolis, Joy Forster, Stephanie Bryant, and Nina Eads:

Our next stop will be at the Loch Norman Highland Games at Rural Hill April 12-14, 2019! If you are planning on going, please stop by and say hello–we’d love to meet you!

Drums Of Autumn Edenton Outlander North Carolina Scottish Immigration Season 4

Backward, Forward and A Giveaway!

January 1, 2018

Happy New Year to you and yours! I pray that you all will have a happy, blessed 2018! For me, every new year comes with hopes for a year a little better than the last, but mostly, for good health and happiness for my family and my friends (that includes you!) and myself. It’s also a time to reflect on the happenings of the last year. The good and the bad, the sad and the happy moments, the things we might would change if we could and the things we wouldn’t change for the world. One of the things I wouldn’t change for the world is starting this blog and the companion Facebook group.  I have met so many wonderful friends who share my love and obsession for Outlander! (It’s nice to know there are other Outlander crazies out there who get it. Wink, wink.)  Of course, there have been some challenges as they come with every new venture but the challenges have paled in comparison to the blessings of you all allowing me a few moments of your lives to read the stuff I write – some of it being downright silly! Yet, you have stuck with me and I so appreciate that. The blog went live on August 5 with my first post and the Facebook group was created two days later. We now have 669 wonderful members in the group…and growing almost daily! I am completely overwhelmed and humbled! It has been an honor to make your acquaintance!

Just as no man is an island, certainly no woman is either and none of this could have happened without the encouragement and support of some very special people. First, my husband. He got dragged into my Outlander obsession and although he doesn’t completely understand it, he does completely support what I’m trying to do.  He even re-watches episodes with me and asks some pretty good questions from a strictly show watcher standpoint – he doesn’t read the books. He’s my Jamie and I so appreciate his love and support. Also, I have received a lot of encouragement and helpful advice from my good friend and group administrator, Susan Holmes Jackson.  Susan has even written a couple of blog posts for me and has been by my side in the group since the beginning.  What a blessing she has been!  Susan also makes Outlander jewelry as well as other beautiful items (I know because I have some of her pieces). You can find her jewelry on Facebook here.  Another big thank you goes to another administrator, Traci Wood Thompson, who has also contributed a blog post and has another one completed and waiting in the wings to be published very soon. More on that in just a bit. I also want to thank my other two administrators who have helped me keep things running smoothly in the group, Blair Beard and Nancy Roach (a/k/a The White Sow). You can find The White Sow on Facebook here or on Twitter @WhiteSow1.  All in all, Outlander North Carolina is an ongoing team effort and I am so thankful for my team! Lastly, but certainly not least, I couldn’t have done this without all of you who are reading this post right now, those of you who have subscribed to my blog, commented on and shared my silly posts, and joined and contributed to the Facebook group! You are what makes the wheel go round and I appreciate each and every one of you.

So, now that 2018 is here, what can you expect and look forward to from Outlander North Carolina in this New Year? Well, here are few things you can keep an eye out for:

  • Season 4! Need I say more! If you are a book reader, you know Claire & Jamie make their way to North Carolina! Because of that, it’s going to be an exciting year for us here at Outlander North Carolina! There will be much to discuss as filming progresses, the premiere draws nearer and as the new season begins. I can’t wait to have The Frasers as neighbors! I’ve been waiting for them for a long, long time!
  • Group Gatherings! Yay!!! We are hoping to have some gatherings throughout the state. If you don’t live in North Carolina but plan to visit, we’d love to meet you and plan a meet up around your visit. If you already live here or even if you don’t, we hope to plan gatherings in some key Outlander North Carolina locations – Wilmington, Edenton, New Bern, Hillsborough, Old Salem, Boone/Blowing Rock (a/k/a The Ridge) and perhaps, Fayetteville (a/k/a Cross Creek).
  • A new series by Traci Thompson which will delve into the topic of Scottish Immigration to North Carolina which should be very informative for all of us history buffs and Outlander lovers.
  • A new series by Susan Jackson on the Outlander North Carolina location of Edenton. You’ll recall Edenton from Drums of Autumn and subsequent books.  This should be a very interesting look inside the colonial Edenton of Jamie & Claire’s time.
  • More Guest Posts! You may even hear from The White Sow herself!
  • An Outlander North Carolina Travel Guide. We’ll be working on a travel guide so you can visit all the Outlander locations plus some in North Carolina. This will be offered as a free printable to group members and those who subscribe to the blog!
  • An Outlander North Carolina T-Shirt Design Contest. We’ve got to have an awesome T-shirt and we’re going to need your help to design it!
  • A Listing of Outlander Events and Appearances for 2018. Conferences, charity fundraisers, and gatherings – anywhere Outlander is celebrated or appearances are made by the cast and show runners, we will try out best to list them all.
  • A Scotland Travel Forum. I want to go to Scotland SO much and I know many others who want to also. Since some of you have already been, we’d love to tap into that knowledge bank and have a place where questions can be asked and answered plus where important Scotland travel information can be shared.
  • More Giveaways! Yes, stay on the lookout for more of these throughout the year. We’ve had a lot of fun with them so far. In fact, keep reading below for a chance to win in our newest giveaway!
  • Any number of things that just randomly pop into our brains!

Whew! I’m tired already just thinking about all of this but very excited too! Of course, there will be a roll out so don’t expect everything all at once. Patience, Grasshoppers! These things do take time.  Also, in order not to miss anything, you’ll want to make sure you are a member of the Outlander North Carolina Facebook Group (not to be confused with NC Outlander Fans which only accepts members who live or have lived in NC.)  Hop on over now to make sure you’re a member of the Outlander North Carolina Facebook Group since announcements will more than likely be shared there first. Here’s the link to the group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/outlandernorthcarolina/ If you’re not a member, we’d love to have you join in the craziness!

A Happy New Year Giveaway

As I mentioned above, we’re having a giveaway right now to celebrate the New Year and all the good things we hope happen here at Outlander North Carolina in 2018! Facebook group member, Jennifer Pittman (no relation), who has her very own jewelry design business, has graciously contributed this gorgeous bracelet which will be given away to one lucky person.

For more of Jennifer’s designs, you can find her on Facebook at JenuineDesignsbyJP https://www.facebook.com/JenuineDesignsbyJP/

Now, to enter for a chance to win, you must leave a comment to this post. One winner will be randomly selected from everyone who comments. What should you comment about? Well, tell me what you’d like to see on Outlander North Carolina. Do you have an idea that I haven’t mentioned? Would you like to write a guest post?  Would you like to contribute towards a giveaway? Would you like to help organize some events and gatherings for the group? What are you most looking forward to in 2018?  How can we make Outlander North Carolina better? Want to simply say hello? See, there’s plenty to say so just say it! Je Suis Prest! Are you? Get to it then and good luck!!! And as always, thank you for reading Outlander North Carolina.

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Happy New Year Giveaway Rules

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY AND A PURCHASE DOES NOT INCREASE YOUR CHANCES OF WINNING.  In order to enter for a chance to win the Sassenach bracelet by Jenuine Designs by JP, you MUST comment on this post. One comment and one entry per person. More than one comment by the same person will be automatically disregarded as an entry. This giveaway begins on Monday, January 1, 2018, at 12:15 PM EST and ends at 11:59 PM EST on Thursday, January 4, 2018.  The winner will be announced on the blog and on the Facebook group.  You must be 18 years of age or older to enter and must be a resident of the United States. (Apologies to our international readers. Giveaway laws vary widely in different countries and giveaways are totally prohibited in some.) Selection of the winner will be made by random drawing from qualifying entries within 48 hours of the end of the giveaway. Prize will be mailed directly to the winner by Jenuine Designs by JP. Questions regarding the giveaway can be directed to outlandernorthcarolina@gmail.com.

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