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Scots to Carolina

excerpts from The Highland Scots of North Carolina 1731-1776
Author Duane Meyer

What can account for the furious transformation of the Highlanders, who in Europe had rallied round the Stuart flag in the Jacobite uprisings known as the 15 and the 45, in memory of the years of their occurrence, but who in North Carolina were the loyal supporters of the House of Hanover. Thomas Wertenbaker, a noted historian, writes: "American historians have been at a loss to explain the loyalty of the Highlanders to the royal cause during the American revolution.  Since many had fought and suffered for the Pretender and almost all were victims of the recent changes in Scotland for which the government was responsible, one might suppose they would have welcomed an opportunity for revenge.  It is only a little less remarkable that a people so imbued with a love of a chief and clan and so attached to the braes and glens of the Highlands should have emigrated at all.

Farewell. farewell, dear Caledon.
Land of the Gael no longer!
A stranger fills thy ancient throne
In guile and treachery stronger.
They brave and just fall in the dust,
On ruins' brink the quiver,
Heaven's pitying e'e is clos'd on thee,
Adieu! adeiu, adeiu forever..  Jacobite Relics

In the three decades following the Forty-five, thousands of Highlanders flocked to America.  More of them settled in North Carolina than in any other colony.  What was responsible for this migration??  American historians who have studied this movement believe the North Carolina Highlanders were forced into exile.  These writers  note that, although social and economic factors may have been involved, the major reason for the migration was political - the persecution and expatriation of rebel Highlanders after the Forty-five.  This emphasis on the political origins of the migration appears with some variations in North Carolina, and it is in need of careful examination.

The first historical work to deal with the upper Cape Fear setlement was the History of North Carolina by Francois-Xavier Martin, a refugee French printer who worked for a time in New Bern.  Martin wrote in 1829 of the Scots:   In the latter part of the year 1746, a general pardon passed the great seal exempting from trial and punishment nineteen individuals out of twenty among the rest, on being transported to America:   they drew lots for this purpose.  They were accompanied by a number of others, who, though they had not taken up arms, favored the prince's cause, and voluntarily shared the exile of their countrymen.  A considerable number of them came to North Carolina, settled on Cape Fear River and formed the settlement of Cambelltoun where the present town of Fayetteville now stands.

Nearly two decades later, in 1846, the Reverend William Foote published his Sketches of North Carolina a history of the Presbyterian settlements within that state.  In the capacity of Secretary of Foreign Missions, Foote visited most of the Presbyterian congregations in North Carolina.  He conversed with clergy and lay people alike recording pieces of information that was later compiled into history.  Foote was greatly interested in the congregations of Highlanders and devoted a large part of sketches of North Carolina to them.  His book has been widely read. Referring to the Highlanders imprisoned by the English, he wrote:

   a large number were pardoned on condition of their emigrating to the plantations after having taken the solemn oath of allegiance.  For a large number who had taken arms for the Pretender preferred exile to death or subjugation in their native land and during the years of 1746 and 1747 with their families and the families of many of their friends, removed to North Carolina and settled along the Cape Fear River, occupying a large part of the country of which Crosscreek, afterwards Campbelltown and now Fayetteville, was the center.  The wilderness was a refuge to the harassed Highlanders and shipload after shipload landed at Wilmington in 1746 and 1747.

....mysterious, intriguing, historical, a haven, a river...The history and the present.  Contributed by Lu Hickey -- freelance writer of Scots around the World.

Southport and Oak Island NC, the mouth of Cape Fear River, a bustling city now of many diverse sites.  Southport has 15 antique shops with 75 dealers. A Maritime Museum where visitors can travel through Southport's maritime history.

The most popular park in Southport is Waterfront Park. From the park you can watch large transoceanic ships from every country pass on their way up the Cape Fear River to the State Ports, creating remarkable photographic opportunities.  Southport is so photogenic that motion pictures and television films have been made there..

To understand the history and to experience Southport, one must visit. The Southport 2000 Visitor Center have available maps, brochures, and self-walking guides through out the city. Also in the visitor center, are numberous historical artifacts on display along with pictures and writings.

Local beaches include Yaupon Beach that offers lush golf courses and King Mackerel fishing tournaments.

Caswell Beach is named after the historic Fort Caswell located at the top of the island, Caswell Beach is home to the brightes lighthouse in the United States and boasts a Coast Guard Station remininiscent of the old coastal life saving stations.

Long Beach is the largest community on Oak Island offers an eight mile stretch of souther facing ocean beach with quiet surf and moderate tides. This family-oriented beach offers water related activities for all ages.

Southport 2000 is a non-profit corporation to act as the catalyst for a downtown revitalization program to preserve the history of this unique area. The organization is striving to rebuild and restore the Old Smithville Burying Ground, the cemetery of the Colonial settlers.

On the walking tour, one finds the old historic homes of the sea faring persons that settled the area.  One lovely home has a "look-out tower" that was equipped with a telescope so the Lady of the house could watch out to the horizon to see what ships were coming in.

One of the many buildings is the "quarintine center" where the ill and fevered passengers of the many ships were taken for observation and treatment.  Across the street, the hospital. Further up this street is the remains of the Fort.

The Indian Trail Tree in Keziah Memorial Park is said to be over 800 years old and was used by the Cape Fear area Indians.  Bonnet's Creek was a haven for Stede Bonnet, The Gentleman Pirate, who operated in the area was captured in the harbor during the Battle of the Sand Bar in 1718.

The Maritime Museum houses among many artifacts, a 200 pound pile torpedo retrieved from the historic waters of Cape Fear River, a 2000 year old Indian canoe fragment, the shipwreck "City of Houston" treasures and many other pieces of the historical area await your iminagination.



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