Scots around the
The Scottish Heritage Society of Iowa
Scottish-Americans have a saying,
"Scratch most any American and you'll find a Scottish grandmother just about skin
Few North Americans have observed a Scottish
piper, a young kilted dancer, or an elegantly clad male in formal Highland apparel without
identifying him or her as “Scottish.” The attire, the music and instruments,
even the carriage of the individuals is distinctive.
These folk are the representatives of a culture as rich and as old as any of the native
strains brought into the Americas. During these ‘olden days,’ their surnames
dominated any grouping in which they were numbered, familiar today as “Dallas,”
“Houston,” “Albany,” or “Cooperstown” and yes, definitely
“Scottsdale.” But, after naming the countryside they also assimilated, blending
in so successfully into the infant American society they became almost un-distinctive. The
kilt that belonged to Grandpa was consumed by dust and moths, bagpipes forgotten in the
attic until beyond restoration, and the tunes no longer familiar.
Estimates vary, but given the preponderance of Scottish surnames, including those carried
by individuals whose family origins are vague or totally forgotten, a good 25 million of
the North American populace owes some genetic influence to that smallish country to the
north of England.
The Scottish Heritage Society of Iowa is comprised of Scottish-Americans dedicated to
preserving the hallmarks of their ancestral inheritance. Some play the pipes, others have
preserved and resurrected the dance forms of the Scottish country dances, a few have
hand-carved and strung the old Gaelic or Celtic harp with the familiar ‘Highland
hump’, several have learned the songs or have mastered the Scottish fiddle style.
They want to preserve all this for the many Scottish-Americans. They want to be a
gathering place for themselves and the sprinkling of native born Scots now in the
Americas. They want to be connected with where they came from and “who they really
We invite all to join us. Those who are fractional-Scottish or no part at all, but
interested in the many things we do—cooking, dancing, studying history and culture.
We have Norwegian-Scots, Iranian-Scots, German-Scots, and everything in-between! We have
some wonderfully special “adopted Scots” who chose us, not knowing from whom
they were descended. They like our style, or appreciate the good malt whisky from the
Highlands and thought we might be up to some good.
All groups have a maturation cycle of infancy, maturity, and old age. The Greater Iowa
chapter is the longest standing in Iowa, founded in Des Moines in 1975. This nucleus
included the children and grandchildren of one of the predecessor groups of the
“Robert Burns Club” or the “St. Andrew’s Society” dating back to
the early days of Des Moines. This latter assembly lost members and momentum as the
country was swept into World War II, Korea, and Viet Nam conflicts.
We welcome your interest in our organization as a symbol of on-going Scottish strength.
The Scottish Heritage Society of Greater Iowa meets at 2:30 p.m. on the 3rd Sunday of the
month during February, March, April, September, and October at St. Luke’s Episcopal
Church, 3424 Forest Avenue, Des Moines, Iowa. Additional special events include the Robert
Burns Supper in January, participation in the Salisbury May Festival, June Picnic, St.
Andrew's Banquet in November, and a Christmas Celebration.
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