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The Ellen Payne Odom Genealogy Library Family Tree
The Family Tree - February/March 2003
Electric Scotland Speaks


Genealogy is of huge interest to many and tracing your ancestors is certainly one of the truly great hobbies of today and especially due to the emergence of the Internet and the Web where so much research can now be undertaken from your home.

Personally I have never been that interested in genealogy and far more interested in the race and its people. To me being Scottish or of Scots descent is far more important. It lets you explore your roots in so many ways that pure genealogy doesn't. Recent DNA discoveries now tell us we're all descended from just seven women and so by taking a quick DNA test you can now go back between 10,000 and 60,000 years.

But what shaped us and made us the people we are today? For example you read…

Dr Jackson elsewhere affords us a striking illustration. While passing through the Isle of Skye ("The Isle of Skye has, within the last forty years, furnished for the public service, twenty-one lieutenant-generals and major-generals, forty-five lieutenant-colonels; six hundred majors, captains, lieutenants, and subalterns; ten thousand foot soldiers; one hundred and twenty pipers ; four governors of British colonies; one governor-general; one adjutant-general; one chief-baron of England; and one judge of the Supreme Court of Scotland. The generals may be classed thus :-eight Macdonalds, six Macleods, two Macallisters, two Macaskills, one Mackinnon, one Elder, and one Macqueen. The Isle of Skye is forty-five miles long, and about fifteen in mean breadth. Truly the inhabitants are a wonderous people. It may be mentioned that this island is the birth-place of Cuthullin, the celebrated hero mentioned in Ossian's Poems.)

So how did such a small island produce so many outstanding people? And for that matter how does a small country like Scotland produce so many outstanding people that have made huge contributions to the world.

John Napier, the 16th-century mathematician, philosopher and inventor who, from his secluded tower in Scotland, produced the vital tool needed by mankind to explore the globe and fathom the universe. Without Napier's invention of logarithms and the decimal notation for complex fractions, the discoveries of others such as Galileo, Kepler and Newton would have been hindered by years of long and complex calculations.

Although the Scots comprise less than one-half of 1 percent of the world's population, 11 percent of all Nobel prizes have been awarded to Scotsmen. (Quote from the book "Mark of the Scots" by Duncan A Bruce.)

Even today we read… SCOTS emigres to the US are five times more likely to become dollar millionaires than those from any other country, according to a study of wealth. Thomas Stanley and William Danko, in their book The Millionaire Next Door, analysed the ethnic backgrounds of the wealthiest members of US society and discovered that while people of Scottish origin make up 1.7% of the population, they comprise 9.3% of its millionaires.

A central theme of Scottish history, has been emigration. Historian George Shepperson has labeled this the Scottish Volkerwanderung. Others have termed it the Scottish diaspora. Scotland's loss, as the National Trust Monument at Culloden currently phrases it, "has been the world's gain."

Sir John Sinclair, compiler of the first Statistical Account of Scotland in the 1790s, stated:- "He [the Highlander] has felt from his early youth all the privations to which he can be exposed in almost any circumstances of war. He has been accustomed to scanty fare, to rude and often wet clothing, to cold and damp houses, to sleep often in the open air or in the most uncomfortable beds, to cross dangerous rivers, to march a number of miles without stopping and with but little nourishment, and to be perpetually exposed to the attacks of a stormy atmosphere. A warrior thus trained suffers no inconvenience from what others would consider to be the greatest possible hardships, and has an evident superiority over the native of a delicious climate, bred to every indulgence of food, dress and habitation and who is unaccustomed to marching and fatigue."

Here is where we get a clue as to why Scots made such great settlers, explorers and warriors.

There is also a romance in our souls as why else would someone write "But listen! Do you hear? Wild and sweet in the distance over the water comes the sound. It is the pipes, and they are playing "Flora Macdonald's Lament." Yonder, down near the shore-you can make them out through the glass-a shooting party has picnicked, and they have brought the piper with them. How the colour deepens on the cheek of the old Highland gentleman here at the sound! He is just returning from many years' residence abroad, and for the last hour, leaning over the deck-rail, he has been feasting his heart upon the sight of the mountains. "There is no music like that music," he exclaims, "over the water and among the hills." To a Highlander, indeed, the sound of the pipes is full of many memories, like "the sough of the south wind in the trees" of an autumn night.

The Reverend Malcolm MacDonald, a native of Whitton, Quebec, a descendant of the early Scots settlers and of the first church established in the area, says:
"'The Book of Books was the library they opened, and the Church of Jesus Christ was the first institution they established and that in their homes, and the Gospel of Christ was the philosophy they espoused.' "
"The most casual observer and historian must admit that these early settlers played a leading part in setting the course in which the Nation travels today.
"I am indeed grateful that we are privileged to stand in the stream of a noble, spiritual, national and cultural tradition, which has flourished in Scotland for centuries, and for some 150 years established firmly on this North American Continent, in both Canada and the United States.

While publishing so many accounts of the Highland Regiments you are struck of course at the sheer courage and fighting ability of the Scots. To me however it is just as amazing to find frequent accounts of the generosity of the Scots to defeated foes. Many accounts are documented of how they helped the women and children in conquered townships and how they conducted themselves so well in the regions they served in with discipline and kindness.

To read the histories brings a lot of this alive for us and makes us wonder at our roots and what it is that made us who we are.

So to those of you that are struggling to find the next link in your ancestral family tree I would suggest that you take great heart that you are part of such a wonderful race of people whether you can trace your ancestors to a particular clan or family or not. To be of Scots descent is truly an amazing heritage all of its own.


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