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Weekly Mailing List Archives
27th February 2009

Alastair McIntyreElectric Scotland's Weekly Email Newsletter

Electric Scotland - The No.1 Scottish History Site The Aois Community brings you message forums and lots of community services
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Dear Friend

It's your Electric Scotland newsletter meaning the weekend is nearly here :-)

You can view what's new this week on Electric Scotland at and you can unsubscribe to this newsletter by clicking on the link at the foot of this newsletter.

See our Calendar of Scottish Events around the world at

Electric Scotland News
The Flag in the Wind
New Statistical Account of Scotland
Poetry and Stories
Book of Scottish Story
The Concise Household Encyclopaedia
Children's Rhymes, Children's Games, Children's Songs, Children's Stories
Folklore of Scottish Lochs and Springs
Social Life in Scotland
The Gateway of Scotland
Robert Burns Lives!
The Social and Economic Condition of the Highlands of Scotland Since 1800
Banffshire (New Book)
Wilderness Homes (New Book)
Carmina Gadelica (2 volume pdf book)

Our new advertiser has started to send in write ups of the various members of the group. The first of those is Evergreen Bed and Breakfast where they also give us a wee storyboard of a 1.5 hour walk which starts at the end of their drive. You can see this at

We've created a page that lists all the members from within our Travel section at


I was talking about pdf files the other day and thought I'd just mention it as I am finding that when you click on a pdf file link that it can take quite a while to load it into your browser. I'm thus now right clicking on the link and from the wee menu that comes up select "Save Target As" and then saving the file to my local hard disk. I find it comes down much quicker and when I view it from my hard disk it just seems to load quicker as well. So just thought I'd pass on that wee tip :-)


I got a phone call today from a local lady who told me her father had written a book about the MacIntyres. She told me he wrote it when in his 70's and when he died he left a note in his will where he asked his family to please and try to keep the book up to date about further generations. She's going to bring me a copy of the book next week and I've said that I'll ocr it onto the site.

Some of the stories in here are just parts of a larger story so do check out the site for the full versions. You can always find the link in our "What's New" section at the link at the top of this newsletter or on our site menu.

This weeks Flag is compiled by Jennifer Dunn. In this issue she is exploring the condition of school buildings in Glasgow.

In Peter's cultural section we get a quote from James Halliday...

Strangers to Scotland, and many Scots themselves, often feel puzzled by the hero-worship which so many bestow upon Robert Burns. The truth is that if Burns had never lived, Scotland could hardly have avoided going the way of ancient English-speaking kingdoms whose identity is long lost. Merged within a greater whole. Scotland today would rank alongside Mercia or Northumbria or Wessex, of interest as an antiquity, a curiosity or an affectation. If Scotland is anything more in modern times, it is because Burns, speaking as and for the ordinary man, stemmed the tide of history, flowing strongly in the direction of absorption and integration. His work meant that a sense of identity was preserved at a time when the politically active classes in Scotland showed little interest in such sense. Aristocracy is by its nature international. It is ordinary people, involved with humbler local community life, who have greater national awareness. These ordinary people had no political power until more than a century had passed, but when in due course these people for whom Burns spoke did gain the right to political participation, Scotland was still there.

"Scotland - A Concise History" which you can read at

You can read the Flag, listen to the Scots Language, enjoy the Scots Wit and lots more at

Christina McKelvie's Weekly diary didn't make it in this week.

New Statistical Account of Scotland
Being accounts of the Parishes of Scotland produced in 1845.

This week have added the Parish of Borthwick.

Situation. - This parish lies about twelve miles south from Edinburgh, near the foot of the Lammermuir-hills, - and at that part where the pastoral vale of the Gala commences its long course of twenty miles, from Fala-hill on the north, to Galashiels on the south.

Borthwick, thus lying along the northern boundary of the Lammennuirs, is at the commencement of that fertile and extensive tract of comparatively level country which stretches over the whole of the Lothians. Any district so situated has a tendency to throw itself into elevations less commanding than those of the mountain range in its neighbourhood, - and not unfrequently, as in the case of this particular locality, to assume the aspect of a tempestuous sea, beginning to subside, but still rolling its mountain billows. Being also of different materials from those employed in the formation of the mountainous districts, it shews this difference of material both in the peculiar shape of its rising grounds, and in the scope and outline of the intervening valleys, - peculiarities which at once mark the different nature of the materials employed and the more recent epoch at which the formation has taken place. The valleys of such districts are commonly traversed by streams of greater size than the mountain rivulets which have contributed to form them, but less than the broad rivers which sweep with their accumulated waters through the more level country. The valleys themselves are often both possessed of native fertility of soil and remarkable for the picturesque views which they open of the more distant and level landscape, and they have always been selected as favourite stations for such castles as were common during the middle ages, and whose ruins still give so much grace and interest to the secluded spots in which they now are found.

You can read this account at

Poetry and Stories
John sent in another poem, "Begeck [Disappointment]" at

Got in a very good poem from John Shepherd's 12 year old son, Will, entitled "The Soldier of Lanark" which you can read at

And of course more articles in our Article Service from Donna and others at 

Book of Scottish Story
Our thanks to John Henderson for sending this in for us.

This week have added the final chapter 3 of a three chapter story of...

Ezra Peden

Here is how it starts...

The old burial-ground, the spirit’s trysting-place, was a fair but a lonely spot. All around lay scenes renowned in tradition for blood, and broil, and secret violence. The parish was formerly a land of warrior’s towers, and of houses for penance, and vigil, and mortification. But the Reformation came, and sacked and crushed down the houses of devotion; while the peace between the two kingdoms curbed the courage, and extinguished for ever the military and predatory glory of those old Galwegian chieftains. It was in a burial-ground pertaining to one of those ancient churches, and where the peasants still loved to have their dust laid, that Ezra trusted to meet again the shadowy representative of the fierce old Laird of Bonshaw.

The moon, he computed, had a full hour to travel before her beams would be shed on the place of conference, and to that eerie and deserted spot Ezra was observed to walk like one consecrating an evening hour to solitary musing on the rivulet side. No house stood within half a mile; and when he reached the little knoll on which the chapel formerly stood, he sat down on the summit to ponder over the way to manage this singular conference. A firm spirit, and a pure heart, he hoped, would confound and keep at bay the enemy of man’s salvation ; and he summed up, in a short historical way, the names of those who had met and triumphed over the machinations of fiends. Thus strengthened and reassured, he rose and looked around, but he saw no approaching shape. The road along which he expected the steed and rider to come was empty; and he walked towards the broken gate, to cast himself in the way, and show with what confidence he abode his coming.

The rest of this story can be read at

The other stories can be read at

The Concise Household Encyclopaedia
Added another four pages which include Added four more pages which include Coins, Coin Tricks, Coke, Colander, Colcannon, Colchicum, Cold, Cold Chisel, Cold Cream, Cold Frame, Cold Meat, Cold Pack, Cold Storage, Cole, Coleus, Colewort, Colic, Colitis, Collar, Collarbone, Collar Box.

You can read about these at

Children's Rhymes. Children's Games, Children' s Songs, Children's Stories
A Book for Bairns and Big Folk by Robert Ford (1904).

The pages we have up this week are...

Children's Rhyme-Games
Carry my Lady to London
A, B, C.
My Theerie and my Thorie
Glasgow Ships
Airlie's Green
Het Rowes and Butter Cakes
Queen Mary

"A B C " is a spirited game, admirably adapted for indoor practice on a wet day, which is played by children seated round a table, or at the fireside. One sings a solo—a verse of some nursery rhyme. For instance:-

Hey, diddle, diddle,
The cat and the fiddle,
The cow jumped over the moon,
The little dog laughed
To see such sport,
And the dish ran away with the spoon.

The chorus of voices takes up the tune, and the solo is repeated; after which the alphabet is sung through, and the last letter, Z, is sustained and repeated again and again, to bother the next child, whose turn it now is to sing the next solo. The new solo must be a nursery rhyme not hitherto sung by any of the company. If unable to supply a fresh rhyme within a fixed limit, the player stands out of the game and pays a forfeit. Less brain-taxing entertainments often engage adult wits.

You can read the other pages at

Folklore of Scottish Lochs and Springs
by James M. Mackinlay (1893)

Added more chapters and this now completes this book.

Chapter XVI - Pilgrimages to Wells
Chapter XVII - Sun Worship and Well Worship
Chapter XVIII - Wishing Wells
Chapter XIX - Meaning of Marvels

Here is how the chapter on Sun Worship and Well Worship starts...

IN his "Scottish Markets and Fairs " Sir J. D. Marwick observes:---"Simple home needs, such as plain food and clothing, articles of husbandry, and other indispensable appliances of life gave rise to markets held at frequent fixed times, at suitable centres. But as society grew and artificial needs sprung up, these could only be met by trade; and trade on anything beyond a very limited scale was only then practicable at fairs. Wherever large numbers of persons were drawn together, at fixed times, for purposes of business or religion or pleasure, an inducement was offered to the merchant or pedlar, as well as to the craftsman, to attend, and to provide by the diversity and quality of his wares for the requirements of the persons there congregated." In the last chapter allusion was made to such gatherings in connection with springs. We shall now look at the dates when they were held, in order to trace their connection with nature-festivals. Fairs, as distinguished from markets, were of comparatively rare occurrence at any given place. In the majority of instances, they can be traced back to some gathering held in connection with what were originally holy days, and afterwards holidays. Such holy days commemorated a local saint, the fame of whose sanctity was confined to more or less narrow limits, or one whom Christendom at large delighted to honour; or, again, a leading event in sacred or legendary history deemed worthy of a place in the ecclesiastical year.

A few dates when fairs are, or were held at various Scottish centres may be selected from Sir J. Marwick's list. At Abercorn they were held on Michaelmas and St. Serf's Day; at Aberdeen, on Whitsunday, Holy Trinity, Michaelmas, and St. Nicholas's Day; at Charlestown of Aboyne, on Candlemas, Michaelmas, and Hallowmas; at Annan, on Ascension-day and Michaelmas; at Ayr, on Mid-summer and Michaelmas; at Biggar, on Candlemas and Mid-summer; at Clackmannan, on St. Bartholomew's Day; at Cromdale, on St. Luke's Day, St. Peter's Day, Michaelmas, and St. George's Day; at Culross, on St. Serf's Day, Martinmas, and St. Matthew's Day; at Dalmellington, on Fastern's E'en and Hallow E'en; at Dalmeny, on St. John the Baptist's Day and St. Luke's Day; at Doune, on Martinmas, Yule, Candlemas, Whitsunday, Lammas, and Michaelmas; at Dumbarton, on Patrickmas, Mid-summer, and Lammas; at Fraserburgh, on St. John the Baptist's Day and Michaelmas; at Fyvie, on Fastern's Eve, St. Peter's Day, and St. Magdalene's Day; at Hamilton, on St. Lawrence's Day and Martinmas; at Inveraray, on Michaelmas and St. Brandane's Day; at Stranraer, on St. Barnabas' Day and Lammas. Among the fairs at Auchinblae were Pasch Market in April, and one called May Day to be held on the 22nd of that month.

This series might be indefinitely enlarged; but as it stands it shows that the leading nature-festivals, such as Yule, Easter, Whitsuntide, Mid-summer, Michaelmas, and Hallowmas have a prominent place among the dates selected. An examination of Sir J. Marwick's list further shows that the dates of fairs were often fixed, not with reference to any particular holy day, but to some day of a particular month, such as the second Tuesday, or the third Thursday. Many of these occur in May. In ancient documents —in Acts of Parliaments, for instance—dates were commonly fixed by a reference to holy days. In Presbyterian Scotland such a method of marking time is not now in fashion, though some relics of the practice survive. We are still familiar with Whitsunday and Martinmas as term-days, but how few now ever think of them as ecclesiastical festivals!

The meaning of customs associated with the various holy days has come to be duly recognised by the student of ecclesiastical antiquities. While the Christian year was being evolved in the course of centuries, certain festivals were introduced, as one might say, arbitrarily, i.e., without being linked to any pre-Christian usages. From the point of view of Church clebrations, they have not the same significance as those others that received, as their heritage, certain rights in vogue before the spread of Christianity. In other words, the • leading pagan festivals had a new meaning put into them, and, when adopted by the Church, were exalted to a position of honour. In virtue of this, the ecclesiastical year was correlated to the natural year, with its varying seasons and its archaic festivals. There is no doubt that in early times the Church sought to win nations from paganism by admitting as many of the old customs as were deemed harmless. We have seen how this was effected in the case of fountains, as shown by Columba's exorcism of the demons inhabiting springs. The same principle prevailed all round. The old Saturnalia of the Romans, for instance, became the rejoicings of Christmas. To the distinctively Christian aspects of the festival we do not, of course, allude, but to the customs still in vogue at the Yule season; and these are nothing more than a revised edition of the old pagan rites.

Among other Aryan peoples the winter solstice was was also commemorated by similar merry-makings. Church festivals, such as Candlemas, Easter, St. John's Day, St. Peter's Day, Michaelmas, Hallowmas, Christmas, &c., absorbed many distinctive features of the old pagan fire-festivals, held in connection with the changes of the seasons. The kindling of fires out of doors, on special occasions, is familiar to all of us. They may be called modern folk-customs; but their origin is ancient enough to give them special significance. Even to the present time, twinkling spots of light may be seen along the shores of Loch Tay on Hallow E'en, though the mid-summer fires do not now blaze on our Scottish hills, as they continue to do in Scandinavia and elsewhere. Among the Bavarian Highlands these mid-summer fires are popularly known as Sonnenwendfeuer, i.e., solstice-fires. That they are so called and not St. John's fires (though lighted in connection with his festival) is significant. In Brittany a belief prevailed that if a girl danced nine times round one of the St. John's fires before midnight she would be married within the year.

You can read the rest of this chapter at

The book index can be found at

Social Life in Scotland
From Early to Recent Times by Rev. Charles Rogers in 3 volumes (1884)

I now have up...

Chapter III.
Marriage Rites and Customs

Chapter IV.
Births and Baptismal Registers

Chapter V.
Death and Funeral Practices

Here is how Chapter III starts...

OF marriage rites and customs in the earlier times no memorial exists. Prior to the introduction of Christianity, and even subsequently, notions respecting the obligations of marriage were crude and imperfect. There is no evidence that the early clergy were concerned in sanctioning the nuptial bond; nor can marriage, as an ecclesiastical office, be traced earlier than the eighth century, when the civil authorities recognised wedlock as solemnized by the Church.

The system of handfasting—that is, of a man and woman engaging to live together for the period of a year, being held free at its expiry, except they elected otherwise, was derived from a Celtic usage which still prevails in Wales under the name of bundling. The chronicler Lindsay of Pitscottie, in writing of Alexander Dunbar, son of James, sixth Earl of Moray, and Isobel Innes, remarks—"This Isobel was but handfast with him, and deceased before the marriage." When Queen Margaret Tudor sued for a divorce from the Earl of Angus, she pleaded that he had been handfasted to Jane Douglas, "who bare a child to him, and by reason of that pre-contract could not be her lawful husband." Divorce was granted by the Pope, but the child of the union between Angus and the Queen was declared legitimate.

In reporting to Sir John Sinclair's "Statistical Account," the minister of Eskdalemuir refers to the practice of handfasting having existed in his parish, under ecclesiastical sanction, at a period preceding the Reformation. At a fair held in the parish at the confluence of the Black and the White Esk rivers, unmarried men chose female companions with whom to be handfasted, and as the parish was under the supervision of the monks of Melrose, a priest of that monastery proceeded thither periodically in order to render these engagements permanent. As he carried in the breast pocket of his dress a copy of the marriage office, he was familiarly known as Book i' Bosom. In 1562 the Kirksession of Aberdeen decreed that persons living together under handfast contracts should forthwith be united in wedlock. Handfasting ceased about twenty years after the Reformation.

Though a system repugnant to social order was discontinued, the Scottish law of marriage yet remained in an unsatisfactory condition. While all persons who respected the social proprieties sought in contracting marriage the sanction of the Church, the union might otherwise be legally constituted. An acknowledgment by parties of being husband and wife, made whether by word or writing, and followed or preceded by their living together, was held as a valid marriage. But the General Assembly ruled, in 1563, that no contract of marriage made secretly, with subsequent cohabitation, should be recognised till the offenders, as "breakers of good order," submitted to discipline, and by "famous and unsuspect witnesses" the contract was verified.

You can read lots more from this chapter at

You can get to the index page of the book at

The Gateway of Scotland
East Lothian, Lammermoor and the Merse
By A. G. Bradley (1912)

Made some good progress on this since last week. We now have added chapters...

Chapter VII. Two Merse Towns
Chapter VIII. In the Heart of the Lammermoors
Chapter IX. Abbey St. Bathans
Chapter X. Farms and Farmers in East Lothian
Chapter XI. Round about Dunbar
Chapter XII. Round about Haddington
Chapter XIII. The East Lothian Shore

Here is how Chapter X starts...

THE alternative designations of the county, which in this season of harvest now spreads before us its undulating carpet of radiant patchwork between the broad, blue waters of the Firth and the Iong swell of the Lammermoors, is a trifle bewildering to the outsider. It makes for further haziness in regard to such of Scotland as is neither within the orbit of the tourist nor the grouse moor market, and I have, of course, only the benighted Southerner in mind. It is from no lack of respect for his Northern neighbours that the average Englishman cultivates this ingenuous innocence, geographical and etymological, for of that I will venture to say the most prickly Scot could never complain. He is quite catholic in these matters, and is almost as foggy, and quite as content to remain so, regarding such parts of his own country as lie outside his orbit.

There is no reason to suppose that the well-to-do men and women of Scotland are qualified to fling stones across the Border on this account. "I am afraid very few of us know much of our own country" is a platitude of which the present writer, for reasons not inscrutable, is the humble and constant recipient, and there is nothing for it but an unreserved acceptance of the obvious. There is a familiar, but happily now rare type of politician, only known in Britain, whose motto is "every country but my own." In the more venial sense of the phrase now under discussion, irreproachably patriotic-persons by the thousand might, as justly be branded with it.

The convertible terms of Haddingtonshire and East Lothian are undeniably confusing to aliens in view of this general fogginess. If the burning of a country house or an election meeting from this quarter are reported in the London dailies, they will have occurred in "Haddingtonshire." In the agricultural column on the next page the root crops of "East Lothian" will be described as in a flourishing condition. The writer of agricultural knowledge, that is to say, has an unconscious respect for tradition. East Lothian will have a certain classic ring in his ear, and if he has a sense of style as well, the cadence of the term, as opposed to the preposterous ill-accentuated mouthful of the alternative, would settle the question. The writer concerned with reporting politics or thunderstorms or motor trials very wisely uses the hideous official designation of Haddingtonshire, just as if it were any ordinary county.

I never heard a farmer in or out of it use any term but East Lothian, and I fancy the folk of Linlithgow follow the same time-honoured and admirable practice. Midlothian has no alternative, though on official documents, I believe, the -County of Edinburgh" is the correct form. Even a Saxon tongue, with its awkward and tiresome predilection for the first syllable at the expense of the rest, would boggle at "Edinburghshire." Many score southern golfers, of course, visit the classic links upon the East Lothian coast; but very few of them, I imagine, know what county they are in, and care less, which is characteristic. "Where am I?" said a gorgeous but polite motorist to me one day upon the road just east of Cockburnspath. He was entrenched within the body of a great and powerful car by stacks of golf clubs, fishing rods, and gun cases. He had come from the far north and was on his return south. In reply to my query he said he had a road map; but it was nothing more. "Am I still in Scotland?" I told him he was still in Scotland, and in East Lothian —a gratuitous crumb of information which did not seem to convey anything definite—and furthermore, that he had the whole county of Berwick yet to traverse.

You can read the rest of this chapter at

You can read these at

Robert Burns Lives!
By Frank Shaw

Several years ago eminent Burns scholar and professor Kenneth Simpson contacted me about a young singer he hoped would be coming to the States. He wanted me to know how good she was and for me to be sure to attend her concert. Unfortunately, fate never decreed that I have that opportunity, but I have been able to collect her songs. That young singer Ken was telling me about is none other that the highly successful Eddi Reader. She has had a CD out on Robert Burns for a few years and has just now released it in a deluxe format including many other songs not included in the original. I look forward to receiving the newer version because I plan for the first time on Robert Burns Lives! to review her CD.

In the meantime, this talented young lady has written a great article on “What Burns Means to Me” and it is my privilege to share it with our readers. Get ready for a phrase that you probably never heard before – “Burns police”. My advice to Eddi Reader is to be yourself! That is what has brought her to the top of her field of entertainment and that is what will keep her there. Also, as far as the “Burns police”, just remember that your interpretation of the songs of Burns is no more that what he did when he literally rewrote over 350 Scottish songs by giving them his own interpretation. Eddi, you’ll be just fine; don’t spend a moment worried about the “Burns police”. Burns had some very harsh things to say about such people. Sing your songs as songs of joy so we can celebrate Robert Burns even more.

Her article... What Burns Means to Me... can be read at

The Social and Economic Condition of the Highlands of Scotland Since 1800
By A. J. Beaton (1906)

As mentioned last week this book is now finished and complete on the site. Here is a wee bit of the Communications section...


FROM the peculiar configuration of the Highlands this region of Scotland was completely isolated from the rest of the kingdom, until the disturbed state of the country in 1715 forced the Government to consider a scheme for the construction of military roads in the Highlands, so that the Royal forces might with ease be able to enter a hitherto impenetrable part of the kingdom. General Wade was therefore commissioned to construct about 250 miles of roads in the Highlands, and although we cannot rank the General as a first-class engineer, yet, as the "Irish" couplet puts it:

"Had you seen these roads before they were made,
You would lift up both hands and bless General Wade."

It was not, however, until the year 1803 that 'any material benefit was derived from the construction of roads; for General Wade's roads, well suited as they were for military purposes, were from the nature of their construction entirely inadequate -and unsuited for the commerce of the country. It was left to Thomas Telford to intersect the Highlands with a net-work of roads, which to this day :stand unrivalled in Scotland.

In 1803 Parliament passed an Act granting .£20,000 towards making roads and bridges in the Highlands, and for enabling the proprietors to charge their estates with a proportion of the expense of maintaining the different lines of communication.

Subsequent grants were made for the same purpose, and by 1820 no less than 875 miles of road were made, at a cost to Parliament of £267,000, to the counties of £214,000, and to individual proprietors of estates of £60,000. The whole of these lines were then under one management, and the maintenance cost about £10,000 per annum. This amount was chiefly raised by tolls, which, however, were considered such a grievance that a Royal Commission was appointed in 1859 which recommended the total abolition of tolls in Scotland. In 1883, under a general act passed in 1878, tolls ceased to be collected on any road in Scotland, and these are now maintained by a general assessment, and managed by County Road Boards.

You can read the rest of this at

You can read the rest of the chapters at

By W. Barclay (1922)

Have made a start at this book with chapters...

Chapter 1. County and Shire. The Origin of Banff
Chapter 2. General Characteristics, Position and Natural Conditions
Chapter 3. Size. Shape. Boundaries
Chapter 4. Surface Features

Here is how the first chapter gets under way...

The word shire is of Old English origin and meant office, charge, administration. The Norman Conquest introduced the word county—through French from the Latin comitatus, which in mediaeval documents designates the shire. County is the district ruled by a count, the king's comes, the equivalent of the older English term earl. This system of local administration was in England the result of a gradual, orderly and natural development; in Scotland, on the other hand, it was the result of the administrative Act of David I (1124-53), who, by residence in England was so "polished from a boy" that "he had rubbed off all the rust of Scottish barbarity." With an intimate knowledge of English methods of administration he sought to introduce some of these. He accordingly divided Scotland into sheriffdoms. This step marked the beginning of the Scottish county division as it is known today, although it took a long time to complete, for the Celtic chiefs in the north and in Galloway were as yet too powerful to allow royal officials to hold courts within their territories. The policy of David, however, led to the all but complete expulsion of the Celtic system from the whole of the east of Scotland up to the Moray Firth, including a not inconsiderable portion of Banffshire. Originally the civil counties were synonymous with the sheriffdoms or stewartries, the stewartry ceasing with the abolition of hereditary jurisdictions in 1748. By the Act of David, Scotland was divided into 25 sheriffdoms or counties. In the latter part of the thirteenth century they numbered 34; there are now 33.

The county of Banff existed at an early period of the new regime. In the twelfth century and in the thirteenth we find such varied forms of its name as Banb, Banef, Bamphe, Bane, Banet. Curiously divergent derivations have been given. The Celtic words for "white ford or beach," for "sucking-pig," and for "holy woman," have been suggested. Banba, a Welsh or Irish queen, has also been mentioned as bestowing her name. Amid such divergencies, who shall decide?

You can read the other chapters at

Wilderness Homes
A Book of the Log Cabin by Oliver Kemp (1908)

As a high number of our settlers had to build log cabins when they arrived in North America I thought it would be interesting to see how they were built and hence this book :-)

Here is what the Foreword has to say...

IF you love the out-of-doors, this book was written for you, to crystallize and bring into reality that vague longing which you have felt for a lodge in the wilderness. Somewhere the trail has led you to the ideal spot in the deep forest, by the shores of a smiling lake or within sound of the murmuring waters.

Wherever you may choose to dwell in the woods, there will be found abundant material for a log cabin, and a day's work will bring results big with pleasure and healthy enjoyment, for even the temporary sojourner in the wilderness cannot turn to better employment than that which will give him a home of his own handiwork.

This you will own with a new sense of proprietorship that hitherto you have not known. Work of your hands, your pride in its possession will increase with the improvements suggested by its occupancy from year to year.

We have purposely avoided the elaborate log structures, which by courtesy are called camps, for they are beyond the ability of the amateur to construct, had he ever so much time at his command. When you desire something more than is here shown, consult an architect, and for the building of it, by all means "let" the job.

The designs which are given have all been built and allow of numberless alterations to suit the whims and requirements of the builder. This much you are sure of: from the first your cabin will have the charm of a home, it will nestle among the trees like a real companion of the forest, though nature must have a few seasons in which to "creep up to the doorsill and wipe away the scars of man's hasty building."

The methods of construction given are those of a thorough workman, though the operations may be greatly curtailed, especially in the smaller camps. A perusal of even the elaborate building directions will by no means daunt you. To have your home in the woods only two things are necessary, the time and the will.

In my own experience I have often wished for such a book as this, and I feel fortunate indeed in the friendship of Mr. D. L. Annis, of Sebec, Maine, to whose interested and practical tutoring I owe my knowledge of Log Cabin building.

Some years ago I contributed a couple of articles (which are incorporated in this book) on the subject to the magazine Field and Stream. The instant response indicated a need for the information contained herein. For that reason these pages were written during my leisure time in the woods and I send them out tried and tested.

Not the least important part of the book are the photographs, and in this connection I must acknowledge with pleasure my indebtedness for the valuable help afforded me by Mr. Harrie B. Coe, of Portland, Maine; Hon. Carter Harrison, of Chicago; Mr. George W. Kirkner, of New York; Mr. N. W. McNaughton, of Schoodic, and Mr. M. J. Marr, of Indian River, Maine, in supplying many of the photographs of their delightful Wilderness homes.

I now have up the first couple of chapters...

Chapter I - Making Plans
Chapter II - The Fireplace

And you can read these at

Beth's Newfangled Family Tree
The March issue is now available.

Here is what the Editor's Letter has to say...

In this great country of ours, I find it so sad that so many of us follow like sheep what the media says - and the media these days shapes what happens to our economy, our politics, our very lives. In school, I was taught that as a journalist, we were NOT to have opinions unless we were writing editorials. We were to report facts. Remember the “Who?” “Where?” “What?” “Why?” and “When?”

I was thinking the other day that there was nothing at all I could do about the mess we find ourselves in these days. Finally, a light dawned and I realized there ARE some things that the least of us can do.

Remember Oprah’s Random Acts of Kindness?

Remember the book and movie about “paying it forward?”

There is an anonymous group in one of my favorite organizations - which also likes to be anonymous. (Gee, this is going to be hard to write about!)

This group does nice things for people - also anonymously. You haven’t heard about them unless you are part of the parent group because of this wish by the parent group and the wonderful group within the larger group to remain unknown.

This group does the things that both Random Acts of Kindness and paying it forward advocate.

Wealthier members see that deserving young men and women get an opportunity for college. Wealthier members help all over the world when there is a need - whether caused by natural disaster or war or disease.

Middle folks sponsor events and contribute to animal shelters and do all manner of good works within their own communities.

There are many within the group who have limited resources, yet they manage to do kind and generous and good things for others.

I’ll give you just a few ideas on things that most of us can do.

My dearest friend keeps a little stack of those prepaid phone cards in her purse. When she sees a young person on the streets begging or apparently homeless, she gives the person one of the phone cards and says, “Please call your mother and father.”

Another friend loves to go through the drive-thru for a nice hot cup of coffee before work in the mornings. She says that when she sees in her rearview mirror a mother with little children...driving an old beatup car, she tells the cashier to put the tab for the car in back of her on her own ticket - and pays for whatever they have ordered. (Sometimes, she will be sure that enough breakfast is included, so that the family behind her may start at least one day not hungry.)

Another friend is likely to manipulate an opportunity to pay for an elderly person’s lunch. She told me about being in a fried chicken place which happened to be located just a little ways from one of those government housing complexes. A little lady was in line in front of my friend. The lady said, “I’ll have the 2-piece snack because I can have one piece of chicken for lunch and the other for supper.” While her meal was being prepared, the little lady went to the restroom.

“Oh, please make her dinner the nicest one on the menu and I’ll pay for it,” said my friend. “And don’t tell who did it!”

The little lady cried when presented with the nice meal.

One of the most rewarding projects is to call your local Senior Center and ask if there is someone there who is alone and lonely. There is always someone. Just get the person’s first name and ask the Senior Center if you may mail things to the lonely person at the center’s address.

Then, send little cards and small, but thoughtful, gifts...or, take things by the Senior Center yourself. Make sure the person has something special for all of the holidays...including Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Mother’s or Father’s Day - and all the rest. It’s fine to celebrate National Pickle Day with your “Secret Pal.”

When going through a particularly rough patch in my life, a friend called on Saturday morning. “Put on your socks and come to my house!” my friend said. When I arrived, my friend - in his white chef’s hat and jacket, had fixed French toast and an assortment of delicious things for breakfast. He said, “I just needed to see you smile again!”

Most of us can do something thoughtful for a friend who also has a “rough patch” to get through. Once, when I was going to Scotland and was short on extra money on the trip, a friend sent me a check for $100 for “expenses.” “Don’t pay it back to me,” he said. “When you can, help someone else.” So, I was able to do the same for another person who was worried about having enough expense money for a trip. I hope that money is still being circulated somewhere.

Ask to help someone in a wheelchair. Offer to carry grocery bags for someone obviously struggling.

I heard the phrase on television the other night. A lady was being honored for doing kind things and she said, “I was just paying it forward.”

Look around. You’ll find your own ways of performing a Random Act of Kindness or paying it forward. The smallest kindness will reap miraculous feelings in yourself and in the recipient of the kindness.

You don’t have to belong to an organization. You can change things for the better just by being kind to someone else.

Most of us have been on both sides of kindness - the giving of and the receiving of. Both sides feel wonderful!

You can read this issue at

Carmina Gadelica
Hymns and Incantations with illustrative notes on Words, Rites and Customs, dying and obsolete, orally collected in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland and translated into English by Alexander Carmichael. (1900)

This work consists of old lore collected during the last forty-four years. It forms a small part of a large mass of oral literature written down from the recital of men and women throughout the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, from Arran to Caithness, from Perth to St. Kilda.

There is an excellent introduction including a number of wee stories. The book then goes on to list the variety of Gaelic stories on the left hand page with the English translation on the right.

I found this book referenced in another book I was working on and was pleased to find it had been scanned into a pdf file and so obtained a copy of this 2 volume set.

The Introduction is in my opinion excellent and well worth reading. You can download this at


And finally, Neil Fraser sent me in a wee story...

A woman brought a very limp duck into a veterinary surgery. As she laid her pet on the table, the vet pulled out his stethoscope and listened to the bird's chest. After a moment or two, the vet shook his head sadly and said, "I'm so sorry, Cuddles has passed away."

The distressed owner wailed, "Are you sure? "Yes, I am sure. The duck is dead,"he replied. "How can you be so sure," she protested. "I mean, you haven't done any testing on him or anything. He might just be in a coma or something."

The vet rolled his eyes, turned around and left the room, and returned a few moments later with a large black Labrador Retriever. As the duck's owner looked on in amazement, the dog stood on his hind legs, put his front paws on the examination table and sniffed the duck from top to bottom. He then looked at the vet with sad eyes and shook his head. The vet patted the dog, took it out, and returned a few moments later with a beautiful cat.

The cat jumped up on the table and also sniffed delicately at the bird. The cat sat back on its haunches, shook its head, meowed softly and strolled out of the room. The vet looked at the woman and said, "I'm sorry, but as I said, this is most definitely, 100% certifiably, a dead duck." Then the vet turned to his computer terminal, hit a few keys and produced a bill, which he handed to the woman.

The duck's owner, still in shock, took the bill. "$150", she cried, "$150 just to tell me my duck is dead?" The vet shrugged. "I'm sorry. If you'd taken my word for it, the bill would have been $20, but what with the Lab Report and the Cat Scan.....

And that's it for now and hope you all have a good weekend :-)


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