This letter came to us through Donna Flood which she
shared with us on Electric Scotland. Donna has provided us with information
on her family at
I’ve very much enjoyed your writings about Lee’s passion. Very lyrical
and poetic. I’m afraid my writing is scientificese, and as such
somewhat dull. Currently, I think that I’ve taken the history of
my/our family about as far as information supports. However, I
continue to be interested in our European connections and have used
religious information to provide the following.
I became interested in religions as a
young man when my parents suggested that if I were to marry a Catholic girl
that I would be expelled from the family. Wow thought I, what did they
do to us? Turns out that my girlfriend through most of high school was
catholic. She subsequently married a man of the same faith and they
had 9 children. I guess that I dodged a bullet of sorts. Anyhow,
why this animosity? It has a long history; at one time all of Europe
became Christian united by the Catholic church. To obtain entry into heaven
required the Pope’s blessing. King Henry VIII of England replaced the
Catholic church with the Church of England in order to carry out his
numerous divorces and marriages fearing excommunication by the Pope.
Meanwhile Scotland and Ireland remained Catholic. During this time the
English were raiding Scotland’s commerce and many young scot males were
fleeing and hiding in France, Germany and Switzerland (see the movie
were influenced by Martin Luther’s Presbyterian Reformation in Germany and
the Methodist Church under Ulrich Zwingle in Switzerland and carried these
religious practices to Scotland. The two eventually became the
dominant religions in Scotland. So how does this apply to our
My mother’s mother, my grandmother (maiden name Henry) carried lineages that
can be traced to Scotland. These were James Wilson, born in St.
Andrews, Scotland, who emigrated to the north American colony of
Pennsylvania in 1766 where he practiced law and helped to write the
Constitution. My great, great grandmother, Jane Wilson MacLaren was a
descendent of his. The others were John and Patrick Henry, who emigrated
from Aberdeen, Scotland, to the north American colony of Virginia in 1720.
One of John’s sons, Patrick, wrote the Bill of Rights. My great, great
grandfather, Samuel James Henry, was a descendent of this group. These
two were the well-to-do Scots. On the other hand, there were the
dirt-poor Scots, who were farming land owned by the Clan chieftains.
These people most likely included the Hobson’s, Collin’s, McCorkle’s and
many others. They were displaced from the land when the English paid
the chiefs to allow them to graze their sheep in Scotland. The prime
ministers, particularly Oliver Cromwell, of England were trying to break the
Catholic church in Ireland and promised poor Scots farm land in northern
Ireland (Ulster) if they would emigrate. Many did, including our
ancestors along with their Presbyterian and Methodist ministers, and that
was the start of the Irish “Troubles” that continue to this day. Many
of these displaced Scots moved on to the north American colonies with
nothing but the shirts on their backs. They wanted to farm and hence
migrated up the river valleys to Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri, etc.,
becoming the frontiersmen, the Crockett’s, Boone’s, etc. Many took
Aboriginal wives in order to survive in this harsh new world, well-known to
the Aboriginals. I know that Grandfather Hobson called himself
Scotch-Irish, and that my great, grandfather McCorkle did come from Scotland
via Ireland. These people were not Irish, they were Scots although
Scotland disowned them when they left for Ireland. Hence, they were
people without a country other than the United States and they hated the
Catholic Church with a burning passion. I have at least three
Presbyterian ministers in my McCorkle lineage and the Henry’s were staunch
Methodists, even naming my great grandfather, Ulrich Zwingle Henry, after
the founder of the Methodist movement. Thus, I’m primarily
Scottish-American with small amounts of German and Cherokee Indian.
Speaking of the Cherokee’s. For a really nice summary of the
foregoing, see the book “How the Scots Invented the Modern World” by Arthur
Herman. 2001(ISBN 0 609-80999-7).
I have long wondered how such a small number of Cherokee genes in our
lineage could be so concentrated in certain people. For example, in a
group picture of the Collins family, my grandmother Aleathea’s picture
stands out as the only non Anglo-Saxon in the group. The same occurs
in my father’s family where Patrick, my uncle, was short, swarthy of
complexion and could have passed for a full-blooded Cherokee Indian.
Of course there are other indicators. The prevalence of blood sugar
(diabetes) problems is related to a gene that can be traced to the Mongols
of the Siberian Steppes, the forerunners of north American Aboriginals.
My aunt Walcy died from complications caused by diabetes. My dad had
and my brother have problems. Also, my dad had and I have a nose that
is Cherokee. Also, I’ve always been able to make a sound with my
tongue that defied description. Recently I heard a re-enactment of a
Civil War battle in which Cherokee’s fought on both sides. They
communicated by making turkey-gobble sounds, which were identical to my own
Anyhow, I hope that this long essay was of interest to you.