Clan Donald in the South Eastern United States by James A. McDonald – Commissioner, Savannah, Georgia.

1976 has been another year of growth and activity for Clan Donald in the Southeastern United States and we are happy to report that interest in our great heritage is increasing in astounding proportions. A brief resume of the year’s events will suffice to show this.

Starting our Bicentennial year early, Father Tom Hudson, Clan Chaplain, and Don Gallamore, North Carolina Commissioner, in October joined the march of the Mountain Men to Kings Mountain, Battlefield, South Carolina, for that event’s 195th anniversary. Tom piped them in for the last few miles and ended the day giving Invocation at the burial cairn of Maj. Patrick Ferguson, British Commander.

In January of 1976, a re-enactment of the Battle of Cowpens, South Carolina, 195th anniversary was held. Clan Donald was the only kilted unit present in the morning parade, made notable by Father Hudson losing 3 pipe reeds to the snow, sleet, and 0o weather. That afternoon, we joined the Royal N.C. Highland Militia and the 84th Royal Highland Immigrants (2nd Bn.) in finally losing again to the Rebels.

Much better weather was had for the February 200th anniversary of the Battle of  Moore’s Creek, North Carolina. Clan Donald had a great turnout for this event in which our ancestors had such a prominent part. A crowd of over 10,000 was present at the National Park site and during the speech making, Clan Donald was asked to make a few appropriate remarks on behalf of the Highlanders who had fought there. We did so in Gaelic and English translation (phonetic Gaelic supplied by Robbie Carroon, Midwest Commissioner), briefly stating why the North Carolina Scots Highlanders, so many of them past supporters of the Royal House of Stuart, in this instance supported the English government; that is loyalty to an oath given upon immigration to North Carolina.

Later that afternoon, Gloria Vaden and Alan McDonald placed a wreath on the Highlanders Monument in commemoration of our clansmen who fell there. Their ancestor, Angus MacDonald, having died at the American trenches, only 100 yards distant. Piper James MacKenzie-Frye, late of the Royal Scots Fusiliers and the US Marines, ended the ceremony with Flowers of the Forest.

In April, there was held at Ellerbee Springs, North Carolina, a resumption of the old Scottish Fair held at that site before the Revolution. Almost everyone in this part of North Carolina is of Highland descent and so it was quite a rousing affair The BBC had a crew in North Carolina doing a documentary on Flora MacDonald, and they came over to cover the Ellerbee Fair, many of our Clan being interviewed.

April also found Don Langford and Al McDonald manning a tent at the Dunedn, Florida, games.

The big event in July is, of course, the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games of which Nestor MacDonald is President. The Duke of Argyll was honored guest and the Campbell tent was next to ours, leading to a most interesting two days. On Friday night, we had a dinner meeting for clan officers and on Saturday was held a clan party at Don and Scotty Gallamore’s to which in addition to over 100 Donald clan members, we entertained the Royal North Carolina Highlanders, MacDonald’s 76th Regiment, and the MacDonald Pipe Band of Pittsburgh. It ended up a real ceilidh with much band music, individual piping and highland dancing by Maris McCullough, daughter of Fred McCullough, Tennessee Commissioner. This weekend saw the first official appearance of the reconstructed 76th Regiment, MacDonald’s Highlanders. Stanley MacDonald Carpenter was appointed Lt. Col. by Lord Macdonald and he has really done a job in recruiting, dressing, and arming the unit, now comprising some 30 men. Hester McDonald was prevailed upon to make their flag, regulation 18th century British Regimental, 6′ x 6’6″, dark green field, Union Jack in upper left corner and crest of the Lord Macdonald in center. We will have it with us on Skye in May 1977 for Lord Macdonald to officially commission.

The next weekend found many of us at the Alexandria, Virginia, games where we met for the first time, along with many other new clan members, Father John Rea who has written an excellent book on Scotland and the Macdonalds.

In September, there was held the Charleston, South Carolina, Scottish Games to which we were delighted to have Ellice McDonald, High Commissioner Clan Donald USA.

October 9 and 10 saw the second Revolutionary War Military re-enactment at Red Springs, North Carolina. As at Ellerbee, this area is full of Highland Scots. It is also the site of the old Flora MacDonald College for Women, now joined with two other small North Carolina colleges into St. Andrews College in nearby Laurenburg.

On this same weekend, Jackson Conn, then Convener for Clan Donald in Virginia, put together a Scottish weekend in Monterey, Virginia, which is some 4,000 feet high in the Appalachian mountains. With pipe band, highland dancers, and a lot of work, he enticed over 1,000 people to the program, most of them for the first time finding out something of their Highland and Ulster Scot heritage. Clan members Paul and Nancy Brockman brought a fine group of Scottish Country dancers from the D.C. area. The day ended up with a real ceilidh at Conn’s home, band, dancers, miscellaneous Scots, a real live Scottish shepherd from across the mountain in West Virginia and a company of VMI freshman cadets on their first leave, fed in dignified fashion by Conn the Younger.

A national officers meeting was held on October 15 at Stone Mountain State Park near Atlanta. We were delighted to have clansmen from as far away as Arizona (Ralph Sadler) and the Midwest (Robbie Carroon and Don Thurber). Much business accomplished. High Commissioner, Ellice McDonald, and his wife, Rosa, were there and had the opportunity to meet a couple hundred of their clansmen and clanswomen.

On Saturday evening, Clan Donald had as its guests at the Tartan Ball, Congressman and Mrs. Larry McDonald of Georgia’s 7th Congressional District. Sunday morning clan members Mims and Delores Wilkinson had a breakfast-lunch for High Commissioner and Mrs. Macdonald and clan officers.

On November 20 was held a clan party at the Jacksonville, Florida home of Florida Commissioner, Al and Freda McDonald. A large number of Florida and South Georgia clan members being present.

November 27 saw the second Georgia clan party at the home of Georgia Commissioner Don and Jane Boney in Chamblee, near Atlanta. Lord Macdonald’s birthday was celebrated and suitably toasted. There was a very large turnout of our many Atlanta area members.

On Sunday, November 28, a Kirking of the Tartan was held at Trinity Cathedral in Miami, Florida. Recently appointed Herald for Clan Donald USA, Don Langford, did all the ground work on this and it was a beautiful ceremony,

The first Savannah, Georgia, Scottish Heritage Day was held Saturday, December 4. The idea being to educate the many South Georgians of Scots blood as to their history. We had a couple pipe bands, Highland dancers, and Scottish athletic events, Clan Donald set up an information tent for all clans, and we were kept busy giving out details on the several clan societies and Scots history. We hope to make this an annual event.

Membership in many of our metropolitan areas has grown so much that we are beginning to have more local activities. Early next year Dr. Ray Ramage in Greenville, South Carolina, and Don Gallamore in Charlotte, North Carolina, are planning a ceilidh for that area. Additional get-togethers will be in the Washington, D.C. area, Savannah, Ga., and possibly two or three more places.

As can be seen, our activities and membership have grown to such an extent that it became necessary to reorganize the administrative structure and so in October, 1976, at the National Commissioners meeting at Stone Mountain called by High Commissioner, Ellice McDonald, the 12-state South Eastern region was divided as follows:

South East -Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina with James A. McDonald, Commissioner.

Mid East – Virginia, West Virginia plus Maryland and Washington, D.C from Eastern region with Col. Jackson Conn, Commissioner.

Mid South – Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee with John R. H. McDonald, Commissioner.

Central South -Arkansas, Louisiana plus Texas and Oklahoma (Commissioner to be named).

With this new set up regional commissioners will be better able to cover their respective areas since the proliferation of Scottish events and activities in the South is really mind-boggling.

Hester and I look forward to the May 1977 World Wide Clan Gathering not only to renew our Scottish and Canadian friendships, but to meet the many of our clansmen from the rest of the world.