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Cape Fear
By Lu Hickey


In September 1739, the quiet lapping of dark waters against the thickly wooded banks of the Cape Fear river would have been disturbed by the sounds of men, women and children talking excitedly in their native Gaelic, " Feuach, 's briagha a th'ann!" - (Look, isn't it lovely!). They had sailed in July, from Campbeltown, the main port of their home area of Argyll on the West of Scotland following the recommendation of a committee of leading citizens. These men had already made an advance trip the Carolinas encouraged by the interest of the Governor, Gabriel Johnston, himself a Scot, who felt that the colony would be prospered by the addition of Highlanders. To attract such immigration, he offered free land grants and even possible exemption from taxation for a time. Led by Neill Du MacNeill ('Black' Neil of Ardelay), this group of Gaelic speakers, included Armstrongs, McAlesters, Clarks, Colvins, Alexanders, McKays, McLaughlins, McLachlans, McNeills, McPhersons, Stevens, Buies, Camerons, McDuffies, McCranies, Pattersons, Campbells, Stewarts, Connors, Wards, McGaws, McDougalds, McGills, Smiths, and Smylies, - and as they fanned out into the surrounding sandhills during the next months, they set the pattern for future settlements, adapting their Scottish ways to the new environment.

Upon the arrival at the Cape Fear area, the Scots found the terrain much like their homelands.  Family after family trekked up the river to find their own "Scotland".  The did just this, first naming it Campbeltoun, justly so after the democratic and religous strength that Campbell's possessed..

In the gleanings of the Presbyterian Church history we find the Campbell family in strong leadership.  Duncan Campbell returned to Argyllshire in 1741.   The Presbytery of Inverary reveals Campbell's concern for the religious welfare of the colonists:

    There was a representation at this time laid before the Presbytery by Duncan Campbell of Kilduskland for himself and the Argyle Colony settled at Cape Fear in North Carolina shewing their earnest desire of having a minister soon settled among them, who is a person of merit and of an unblemished character because the Gospel is yet in effect to be planted in those parts where the is a considerable number from our bounds already settled and a prospect of a great number of the poorer sort to follow and who are in deplorable circumstances for want of Gospel ordinances there being but two or three ministers in the whole province and these of a poor character, who besides have not the language spoke.

Because the prospects of receiving an adequate sallary in North Carolina were inconsiderable, Campbell found it impossible to secure a Gaelic-speaking minister.   He petitioned the Presbytery and the Society to provide the first year's salary for the transportation of the clergyman to America.  The Society granted 21 for the project but for unknown reasons a minister was not sent.  The colonists were without a permanent pastor until 1758.

The first Presbyterian minister to visit the colonists was Hugh McAden, an itinerant preacher on January 25, 1756.  He arrived at the home of Hector McNeil and preached.

At the advent of the millennium of 2000, there are many generation Scots active in the area of Cape Fear.

Check out the Carolina Scots Web Page



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