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T h e S p o r r a nT h e S p o r r a nT h e S p o r r a nT h e S p o r r a nT h e S p o r r a n
News FromNews FromNews FromNews FromNews From
The Clan Davidson SocietyThe Clan Davidson SocietyThe Clan Davidson SocietyThe Clan Davidson SocietyThe Clan Davidson Society
Davidson of Davidston
Arms Of The Chief
Read All About it!
Clan Davidson Society (USA)
Annual General Meeting
Moving to New Hampshire in Autumn 2013
Details on Page 4
Subject Page Item
Editorial Item (President)
Richard Halliley announces new Charitable Activities Initiative, the May Davidson
Heritage Hall, on the grounds of the Old Davidson Plantation, Rural Hill,
Huntersville, NC. Details on page 7.
Editorial Item (Sennachie)
Dave Chagnon announces 1) the Annual General Meeting (AGM) of CDS-USA will
become a moving venue, to be held at locations across the USA; 2) The AGM for 2013
will be held in conjunction with the New Hampshire HG in September and hosted by
R6 RD, Jeff Smith; 3) future Society elections will be via electronic means or mail-in
Feature Item, History
Brigadier General William Lee Davidson, American Hero by Debbie Sorrels Mecca.
Part IV of IV of the story of an American Revolutionary War hero by his GGGG
Brothers at War — Letters Written By Two Davidson Brothers During The American
Civil War To Their Relatives In England – Part I by Robin Crofton. Robin Crofton is
searching for the descendants of two brothers so as to pass along their 19 C letters
A Davidson’s part in the “Great Escape” - Pilot Officer Barry Anderson Davidson
(1914 - 1996) by Bob Davidson, Editor-In-Chief of CDA-UK journal, The Pheon.
A Wren’s Tale – The Secret Link to Bletchley Park by Bob Davidson, Editor-In-Chief
of CDA-UK journal, The Pheon. A second story about a Davidson Clansman and their
role in World War II.
Cromarty And The Davidsons by Nick Hide, Principal Researcher for CDA-UK. Nick
tells of the importance of Cromarty and the Black Isle to the Clan Davidson in years
Feature Item, International
Bob Davidson, Chairman of CDA-UK for many years, steps down and is replaced by
Iain Davidson. CDS-USA members, Jeff & Merry Smith and Jeff and Evy Schrager
attend the CDA-UK AGM.
Notable New Zealand Davidsons - John (Jock) Davidson36
Feature Item, People
A Tale of Faith & Belief & Other Intangibles - The Larry Davidson Family by Dave &
Ev Chagnon. The story of one family’s travails and how they were overcome “with a
little help from their friends”.
What Does Being Scottish Mean? by Paisley Dawson. A teenage girl relates her
feelings about her Scottish heritage.
My First Journey Home by Garth Davidson. A young Davidson Clansman and his
bride travel to Scotland and reconnects with his ancestral homeland.
A Letter to the Sennachie by Douglas Ikelman. CDS-USA Lifetime Member, Doug,
relates a story about his Scottish-German antecedents.
Member Michael Davidson joins the CDS-USA stable of authors with the publishing
of two books, Harry’s Rules and Incubus.
Regional Director Reports
Report from the New Hampshire HG (future site of the 2013 AGM) by Jeff Smith37
Report of the 2012 Alexandria VA Christmas Walk by Debbie Davidson, with a bonus
article about the ancient Celtic war trumpet by David McDavitt.
A report on the Murray KY HG by Doug Kirby44
A report from the Aztec NM HG by Matt & Stacey Dawson and report from Region
18 by Bob & Jan Davidson
A Ceann Cinnidh CuimhneA Ceann Cinnidh CuimhneA Ceann Cinnidh CuimhneA Ceann Cinnidh CuimhneA Ceann Cinnidh Cuimhne
(The President’s Thoughts) by Rich Halliley
Hearty greetings my fellow Clan Davidson members! When you read this column, we shall
have again crossed the threshold of another Christmas and New Year’s celebration. I hope everyone
had a safe and joyous holiday season and are packed with anticipation towards the events of 2013.
The end of 2012 finished with a big bang! First-off, the initial funding for the Rural Hill
Cultural Center and May Davidson Hall (MDH — located on the site of the Old Davidson Plantation
near Charlotte, NC) was approved by the Society’s Core Executive Committee. In addition to private
donations received to date, the CDS-USA has committed $1,000.00 of funding aimed towards
covering the costs of the Clan Davidson banner to be hung in the new Hall. The banner was completed
several weeks ago and it looks fantastic! Also, our very own “Am Fear Fardach”, Jack Mobley and his wife Earlene, took
on the task of providing two very special chairs, fashioned with DavidsonAncient tartan cushions, to embellish the MDH.
The chairs are complimented with a very nice table along with an exquisite yet simple bronze stag centerpiece. I’m
delighted with their selfless donation and cannot wait to see the end result of all of these wonderful things at the Loch
Norman HG inApril.
Secondly, and as a result of much healthy examination, the course of our society will be taking a new direction. For
many years – in fact since the founding of our society – Clan Davidson USA has remained a bit overly centered on the
“southeastern quadrant” of the US.Although the International Gathering of 2011 brought usALL together as a Clan united
across the four corners of the US, little has been done since then to promote activities, and more importantly
responsibilities, that keep pace with a membership that continues to spread in substantial numbers across the US. Therefore,
as the Sennachie (and Chairman of the Board of Directors) will explain in detail in this edition, the Board of Directors and
Extended Executive Committee voted several weeks ago to act on a means and method to become more responsive to the
country as a whole. First, the AGM, which has been held in either Georgia or North Carolina for all of its years, is going to
grow wings and fly to New Hampshire this year! Wow… quite the trek! Secondly, the election of Officers will no longer be
a matter for a “chosen few” at the AGM. Yes, folks, we’re going to present this matter faithfully into your hands,
electronically, to facilitate the next election in 2014. I’m very excited about the prospect for searching out the talented folks
who will carry forward the Clan’s missions and goals. And without a doubt, there are already a host of qualified members,
including many of our Regional Directors, very capable to lead the Clan Davidson charge onward, so I expect the search
will be fruitfully short!
I’m very eager about these new developments along with the host of games that will be upon us in 2013. Honestly
though, we can only reach these goals as long as each and every one of you continues to support our Regional Directors
whose vital mission it is to represent the Clan Davidson Society at the various Highland Games and other events across the
nation. They work awfully hard to bring you a weekend of fun with your Davidson family, and they deserve being
rewarded by your attending and helping out in the process! So make you plans early this year.
Gu robh beannachd nan diathan agus ar sinnsearan air liebh!
“May the Gods and ancestors bless you”
Ramblings From The SennachieRamblings From The SennachieRamblings From The SennachieRamblings From The SennachieRamblings From The Sennachie
by Dave Chagnon
Qvo Vadimus? [Where are we headed?]
There’s been a lot of activity among both the Society’s Core and Extended Executive
Committees and the Board of Directors lately, stirred into action by the adoption of a second item
on the CDS-USAlist of charitable activities. What’s the “list of charitable activities”, you say?
Why, that’s a list of approved initiatives that CDS-USA supports, when it has the funds to do so.
Until recently, there was only one item on the list, the Colorado Youth Highland Dance
Initiative. Now there are two, the second one being added several months back, the May Davidson
Heritage Hall currently in construction on the site of Rural Hill Plantation, Huntersville NC. See the
article and photos on page NN for more information regarding this initiative.
Rural Hill is also the site where the Loch Norman Highland Games (LNHG) is held everyApril, and the venue
where CDS-USAhas held its Annual General Meeting (AGM) for the last decade or so.
This gets us to the point of this article – our Annual General Meetings.
Prior to holding the Society’s AGM in conjunction with the LNHG, the AGM was held at the Stone Mountain
Highland Games, just to the east of Atlanta GA. It was during the line-up for the Parade of Tartans more than 30 years ago
that fate stepped in, causing Colonel Floyd Stayner and me to bump into each other, setting into motion the foundation of
the Clan Davidson Society (USA). The Colonel has long since returned via the “low road” to the land of our ancestors in
the hills of Scotland, and now, I’m the last of the Founding Fathers of the Society still active in a leadership role. The
Society has grown in so many ways since those halcyon days of my youth; size of the membership (oh, aye, and my
body!), infusion of technology into the ways we communicate with the membership, the publishing of our own book on
Clan history et al, even holding a very successful Clan Davidson International Gathering (CDIG)… no, this isn’t your
grandfathers’ Clan Society any more.
BUT, with all that being said, I fear we, as a nation-
wide incorporated entity, have reached a place where we had
become stagnant. I think the very success of the CDIG has
demonstrated just how much Clansmen from all parts of the
country really enjoyed gathering together to enjoy each other’s
company, share a few drams and a few lies. The CDIG gave us
tangible proof just how much that sense of kinship continues to
bind us together despite all the years and all the miles that
separate us from the Auld Country… and each other. And there
was nothing strange about our overseas Clansmen other than a
bit of an accent here and there, but certainly no more so to our
ears than the different speech patterns of the Deep South
compared with the flat vowels of the Mid-West or Down East
drawl of the folks from Maine. Despite the place of our
respective births, each of us at the CDIG bled green blood,
tinged with a wee smidgeon of blue, black and red, and we all
BUT, again, with all that being said, it is simply not
practical for a host of reasons to consider hosting such a lollapalooza Gathering every year or even every 5 years, as much
as some of us would like to. For one thing, I’m not willing to spend a major part of my life during the 18 months of back-
ground work the CDIG took, nor do I see a double line of willing and able candidates queuing up to take on the task.
Secondly, I think many of the CDIG attendees would not be willing (or able) to expend so much of their personal resources
that it took for them to get to KC for the CDIG in 2011. Despite the fact that the CDIG was held virtually on top of the
geographic center of the contiguous 48 States of the US, with an International Airport only 12 miles away and an Interstate
Highway exit a half mile away, it was still nearly two thousand miles distant from the 4 corners of “the Lower 48”, making
it no easy chore for the denizens of the edges of the US to make the trek to KC. Let’s face it, the USA is just too big to
expect a significant portion of our widely scattered membership to gather in any one place on a regular basis, regardless of
where that spot was located on the map.
Oh dear, what can we do to facilitate the Gathering of larger numbers of Davidson Clansmen in all parts of the
country without the insane costs and logistics of the CDIG? Simple, he says, as he scratches his time-furrowed brow, let’s
get our AGM out of the southeast corner of the US where it’s always been located, and move it to the corners and the
nooks and the crannies of the US where the Society is already having some sort of Gathering (albeit small in many cases),
the Davidson Tents being manned at Highland Games all over the US.And there’s nothing in the Society’s bylaws that
preclude having the AGM move from town to town so long as the actual site is announced in the January newsletter.
Many Clan Societies’already do this with great success, and there’s nothing new about the concept, so why hasn’t
CDS-USA adopted this “shell game” of anAGM already? Because there are other factors that come into play, lots of them,
with the election of officers at the top of the list.
So I sent out a proposal to the Extended Core Executive Committee and Board of Directors regarding 1) electronic
elections; and, 2) the concept of a moving AGM. The results were unanimous — on both counts.
Soooo… beginning with 2013, ourAGMs will be held at different locations all around the USA, not just in the
SEQ. And they’ll be more of a social event rather than a business event because of our experience with the CDIG. We’re
hoping that this rovingAGM will provide an opportunity for a Regional Gathering, if not a National Gathering.
The Davidsons take the field at the head of the Parade of Tartans
at the International Gathering held in conjunction with the
Kansas City Highland Games, June 2011.
And, in the future, officer elections will be by way of an electronic mechanism (yet to be determined) or by paper
ballot for those who still insist on receiving their newsletter as a snail-mailed document. We’re hoping that vacancies in our
officerships will be thus more open to fulfillment from members in any part of the country, because officer meetings will be
electronic and not face-to-face. Since the next election won’t be until 2014, we have some time to iron out some of the
details that will be posted in future newsletters and on the website.
AGM To Be Held at the New Hampshire Highland Games
For the first time, ever, I am pleased to announce that the 2013 CDS-USAAnnual General Meeting will be held on
the grounds of the Loon Mountain Ski Resort in conjunction with the New Hampshire Highland Games [http://
www.nhscot.org/], September 20th through the 22nd. One of the premier Scottish events in the Northeast, it hosts
sanctioned competitions in athletics, Pipe Bands, Highland Dance, fiddling and on and on. The resort is nestled in the glens
of the White Mountains of New Hampshire and the fall foliage is spectacular.
The newly appointed Regional Directors for Region 6, Jeff and Merry Smith, will host the event, and there’s even
an evil rumor that the Sennachie will make his way from Arkansas to help set the tone for this event. If you’ve even wanted
to meet the Sennachie mano a mano, whether to tell him what a fool he is, or how badly be needs to brush up on his
English prose skills, this will be your best opportunity! It’s also rumored that Society Genealogist, John Lisle, may make an
Jeff is busy working out the details of what all he will have planned for those Clansmen who find their way to
Lincoln NH in September. Details will be published in the July newsletter, but, if you plan to go, it’s a good idea to think
about booking accommodations now.
You can contact Jeff at [email@example.com]. Read his report on the NHHG and check out the photos in this
edition on Page 37.
Attention — All Regional Directors!
Now that the cat is outta the bag concerning the reality of Roving
AGMs, we need to know which RD would like to host a future AGM. I
would think that potential host sites would be centered around a substantial
Highland Games so as to 1) provide a suitable venue for socializing and
provide out-of-State visitors something to do; 2) be located reasonably
near a major airport, maybe within a hundred miles or so; 3) and have
access to a range of lodgings and restaurants. THE biggest criteria would
be the level of enthusiasm of the volunteer RD for the idea to begin with.
If this sounds like your “cuppa”, let me know so we can give your
ideas some consideration and discussion. Remember, we’ll need to know
no later than the first of December of the year before you would want to
host an AGM so we can advertise it in the January newsletter.
If all else fails, and no RD steps to the plate, the default location
will be the Loch Norman Highland Games in Huntersville NC.
The newest and most accurate book about Clan Davidson is now available. The book,
Clan Davidson - History, Symbols, Septs, Tartans, Clan Organizations & More is 54 pages
packed with great information about “The Best Clan in the Land”.
And, for the persons who prefer to know the truth about history (as opposed to those
who still believe in the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy version of history), check out the last
Section in the book: Scottish and Clam History - Fact Versus Fiction.
It’s available from our website Shopping Mall [https://www.clandavidsonusa.com/
davidson-shopping-mall/] for $12 (printed version) of $8 (e-version); or send a check to me
David & Patty Davisson -
Most Excellent RDs for R13.
Flim Flammery in Scotland!
Many of you may have heard of a future Grand Gathering in Scotland in 2014 to coincide with the 700th
anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn and the impending vote on Scottish independence. The Secretary of the Standing
Council of Scottish Chiefs was wayyyy more than premature recently in his sending out of very erroneous press releases
regarding such a gathering. To further compound this comedy of errors, the Council of Scottish Clans andAssociations
(COSCA) here in the US picked up the gauntlet and ran with it… straight into the mud, so far.
Our man in the UK, Nick Hide, has been in close contact with the potential organizers of this (so far) non-event,
and even they agree they were too quick to beat the drums. Personally, once I heard that the potential organizers were
planning to have Lord Jaime Sempill start the fund-raising for the event, flags started flying in my mind. Sempill was one of
the principal front-men for the 2009 Homecoming Gathering and bore the lion’s share of the responsibility for the event’s
huge monetary losses. Perhaps his motives may be pure, but one has to strongly question his wisdom with the events he’s
So, if you were planning on a jaunt to Scotland for this (so far) mythical 2014 Gathering, don’t be too quick to
make reservations or pack your bags. I’ll post updates to this from time to time, based on the reports of our excellent sleuth
“over there”. In the meantime, I wouldn’t pay a lot of attention to any drum-beating you might hear. If you have questions
about this in the future, feel free to give me a call (501 416-7532) or send me an email [firstname.lastname@example.org] to get the
latest reliable news.
News From The Left Coast
Lifetime Member Dan Kay, one half of The Terrible Two duo
of identical twins Dan & Don Kay (also a Lifetime Member) recently
had a blow-out wedding, bringing into the Clan his bride, Erin. I can’t
repeat the stories that were told about the ceremony and its aftermath,
but let’s say a great time was had by all… that could remember!
Do You Remember… Mizz Typhoon Avon Moffitt?
I first met AussieAvon Moffitt in Scotland in 2007. Nearly two decades my
senior,Avon could run circles around me, and did! Over the years we exchanges
emails and photos, and I was blessed to have her company in my home for about a
week a few years ago.
Avon, raised on a sheep and cattle station northwest of Brisbane in the State
of Queensland inAustralia, remains to this day an avid horsewoman of considerable
skill. She is an active (very active) member of a reenactors group ofAustralian Light
Cavalry, among many other pursuits. Avon was also one of a handfull of Aussies
who attended the CDIG in 2011, and there are many members of CDS-USA who
have a special place in their hearts for this remarkable woman.
I received a letter and a few photos of Avon’s latest adventures with her
reenactors as they took part in activities in Turkey, Israel and Egypt last fall. Here is
a photo of Avon at... um - where is this place??
Principal Combatants - From Left:
Erin, Dan, and Don (with sword)
Background (and updates) on May Davidson Hall by Rich Halliley
The following piece is provided as a result of the Ad Hoc
committee’s work in regards to the Rural Hill Cultural Center and
May Davidson Hall. To date, the new 4,000 square foot facility is for
all intents and purposes completed and ready for formal dedication.
By this writing, it is expected that a contingent of Davidson members
will have attended the initial dedication ceremony planned for the
“First Footin”, an annual event sponsored by the RHCC, on New
Year’s Day, January 1st, 2013. At that time the Clan Davidson banner
will be installed from the rafters in the main room, along with several
other clan and other sponsoring organization banners to kick-off the
start of a new tradition at Rural Hill.
In 1989, the last remaining direct descendants of John and
Violet Davidson to live at Rural Hill, John Springs Davidson and his
sisters, Elizabeth and May, worked with the Charlotte Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission, to sell Rural Hill to
Mecklenburg County.At that time the Mecklenburg County non-profit group “CatawbaValley Scottish Society” (CVSS)
was seeking a home to establish a Scottish heritage event, which would become known as the Rural Hill Scottish Festival
and Loch Norman Highland Games. It was a perfect relationship.
Since that time CVSS, now known as Historic Rural Hill, has worked with the Mecklenburg County Parks and
Recreation Department in restoring and preserving this historic farm. On February 17, 2006 Rural Hill became officially
open to the public for daily visitation.
May Davidson was a member of the Clan Davidson Society for several years in the
late 1990’s. She was the last direct descendant of Revolutionary-era Major John Davidson,
Rural Hill’s original settler. She was born on the farm in the house called “Rural Hill” in May
of 1919. May was a sixth-generation Rural Hill Davidson and was the last person to call this
place home.After receiving her college degree, May worked for the NC State University
Department ofAgriculture in Raleigh. She began her political career in Washington, D.C.
working for Rep. Joseph W. Ervin of North Carolina and Rep. William Colmer of
Pascagoula, Mississippi. She finally completed her Washington career working for U.S. Sen.
Sam Ervin of North Carolina.
When she died in June 2011 at age ninety-two – continuing a Davidson-family
tradition of longevity, her will and last testament assured that the family’s legacy would
continue on the grounds that the family first settled in 1761. May bequeathed Historic Rural
Hill substantial funds and her clear instructions for its use; that being a cultural center on the
original property of the Davidson family. The RHCC took those wishes to task and the
Cultural Center, anchored by “May Davidson Hall” broke ground on January 3rd, 2012. Completion for the 4,000 square-
foot facility is targeted for winter of 2012 with dedication ceremonies planned in early 2013.
The new venue will soon become the only facility of its kind in the US, at one of the nation’s largest annual
Scottish gatherings - the Loch Norman Highland Games and Festival. Held the 3rd week of April every year, Loch Norman
will enter its 20th year of existence in conjunction with the Grand Opening of the RHCC. Rural Hill has also been the past
site of many CDSAnnual General Meetings as well as one of the host sites visited by the Society’s Chieftain,Alistair “Jock”
Davidson and his wife Mary during their grand tour of the United States in 2001.
Clan Davidson is one of the many Scottish clans and organizations that will benefit from the new RHCC. The
4,000 total square-foot facility will rapidly become a cornerstone for future events, providing visitors the opportunity to
experience Rural Hill’s fascinating culture and history in a new and spacious setting. The center, modeled after the large
barns that once dotted the area will gracefully blend in with the rural landscape. It will feature a large great-room, caterer’s
kitchen, covered outdoor space, restroom facilities, and ample storage space. While serving the needs of the Scottish
community during the various highland gatherings, the Cultural Center will also be utilized for weddings, meetings and many
other indoor functions.
Artist’s rendering of the May Davidson Heritage Center
The history of Rural Hill and Mecklenburg County along with the
impact that this Davidson family and others made in this region offers
oneself a great deal of exploration into their own family ancestry as well. In
the future, the Scottish Heritage Room will contain many important facts
about Major John Davidson and his descendants to the many visitors taking
advantage of research. The Clan Davidson Society is excited for the
prospect of holding future regional gatherings and perhaps even a national
The following information provides a brief update to several events
that have occurred over the past several weeks before press-time. It surely
looks that Clan Davidson is poised and ready to partake in the initial
dedication ceremonies planned between January as well asApril during the
Rural Hill Scottish Festival and Loch Norman Highland Games.
Amonth ago the Clan Davidson banner, being one of only two Clan
banners initially ordered directly by the RHCC from a select vendor was
completed.After undergoing strict scrutiny for presentation and compliance
by the director of the RHCC, Mr. Ed McLean, in
assistance with the CDSAd Hoc’s committee
representative, Jack Mobley (our very own “Am
Fear Fardach”) approved the final version. The
actual banner as pictured here was then presented
to our Secretary/Treasurer Ms. Elaine Davidson
during the Bethabara Highland Games in North
Carolina. Elaine was truly pleased with the
outcome and the banner is now ready to be
dedicated and installed during the “First Footin”
ceremony held on New Year’s Day, January 1st,
Funding for the banner became official
by a unanimous vote of the Core Executive
Committee.Along with private contributions
approaching $600, the CEC approved an amount of $1,000 to cover what is the standard clan “induction” fee, including the
cost of materials and installation within the new Hall as determined by the Rural Hill Cultural Center committee.
In addition to having the banner ready for indoctrination to May Davidson Hall, it was revealed two weeks ago that
Jack Mobley and his wife Earleen, secretly working in earnest to come up
with a good representative furnishing for the Hall, completed their semi-
clandestine mission! The picture here shows a splendid pair of arm chairs
upholstered with Davidson ancient seat cushions along with an
accompanying table and Stag centerpiece to embellish the hall.All of the
furniture was purchased second-hand, stripped and craftily restored to
create a superb presentation. The special grouping will actually be placed
in a dressing room next to the small conference room, and will provide
comfort for many a bride-to-be as well as other guests utilizing the facility
for weddings and other special events. This selfless donation provided by
the Mobley’s is a fine example of the way many Clan Davidson members
get things done sincerely and wisely. Heartfelt thanks go out to Mobley’s
for such a wonderful donation.
Jack & Earlene Mobley
While funding for the initial efforts now underway for the RHCC and May Davidson Hall is now complete, theAd
Hoc committee will discuss and turn over future efforts for sustained funding of the facility to the society’s Director of
CharitableActivities, Mr. Matt Dawson in 2013. It was Matt’s recommendation during early discussions to employ private
as well as society funding, which was highly successful. Given his penchant for creativity in this arena, we’re enthusiastic
that opportunities will exist for utilizing this fine facility and supporting it down the road.
About the MembersAbout the MembersAbout the MembersAbout the MembersAbout the Members
A Tale of Faith & Belief & Other Intangibles – The Larry Davidson Family
by the Sennachie
Its Thanksgiving morning and, for once, it’s a quiet day for me. Due to family circumstances, the Evil One and I
have opted to move our usual Thanksgiving family gathering to the following Sunday. So no hectic scurrying as we
patriarchs scramble for control of the kitchen, she for her pie and bread-baking, me for everything else — bird roasting,
veggie preparation, gravy, homemade cranberry relish (actually done ahead of time yesterday), and so on. We generally host
a dinner for 10 to 15 folks. Of course, that will come on Sunday, but for today, I have some time for contemplation about
Being raised with no knowledge of my connection to Clan Davidson or the Celtic world (remember my French
surname?) until my Celtic Awakening nearly 40 years ago, I’m still in awe of the power that comes with the hard won
knowledge of my ancestry. The more I bask in the warmth of my Davidson Clan the more I appreciate the hidden but very
real (at least to me) ties that seemingly connect me to my fellow Clansmen, despite
the dozens of generations and thousands of miles that might separate us. And there
is absolutely no doubt in my mind that this is so.
I am an engineer by trade and genetic mind-set. I spent a long career
manipulating many factors and variables to bring about a desired result —
specifically things that comprised very large scale and highly complex
communications systems. The way I think [A + B + C = Finished Project] is
empirical and consistent. The variables can be weighed, measured, touched and
smelled; they exist. But when it comes to this idea of a hidden connection to my
fellow Davidson Clansmen, my engineer’s brain is boggled. To begin to get a handle
on these seemingly incompatible concepts (i.e. tangible empirical evidence of
something versus intangible belief of the existence of something), I studied the
works of German Philosopher/Psychologist Karl Jung and his thoughts regarding a
phenomena which offers an explanation for this intangible belief which actually
makes some sense. Jung’s approach posits a “personal unconscious” of repressed
thoughts that were individually acquired; it also views people as having a “collective
unconscious” containing thoughts and images from all of humanity, owing their
existence not to individual experience but to heredity.
WOW! This concept hits my quandary squarely on the head and, finally,
gives my engineer’s brain a tangible peg upon which to hang an intangible
German Philospher Karl Jung
My Philosophical Hero!
By now I probably have you really confused, and you are most likely asking yourself what that idiot Sennachie is
now up to, and maybe it’s time to call out the white-coat-and-butterfly-net squad. Stay with me, there’s actually some solid
ground to this treatise just ahead.
Ever since the French Canadian Catholic nuns of my early childhood school days beat the faith out of me (around
4th grade, as I recall), I have had little use for the entire concept of organized religions. Extensive reading through the
histories of virtually every civilization that’s ever existed has me convinced that organized religions have always provided a
most effective cattle-prod for the few very bad men who held them to goad on the very evil actions of a large number of
other-wise pretty good men. I cannot in good faith lend my support to such activities and, thus, eschew any attachment to
any organized religious activity. It’s not that I’m a bad guy; it’s just that I prefer to make my own way to what may come
further down the road. I certainly do not have any desire to cause other people to change their own thoughts on this matter
(so long as they leave me out of their loop), and I have a huge and powerful need to be a friend to man and avoid lying and
cheating and stealing and harming others — the good ol’ Golden Rule is my mantra! So when I hear of the “power or
prayer”, or the appeal to some mythical “God” figure for help and solace, I tend to be a bit skeptical.
But wait! Using the precepts of the Collective Unconscious, could there be yet another tangible peg upon which to
hang yet another intangible concept — in this context, the existence of a God-figure and his/her/its ability to 1) give a rats-
arse about the problems of one specific human out of a zillion of them, 2) have the ability to do something positive to
alleviate the problem of that one specific human, and, 3) actually DO whatever it is that’s called for to make such an
alleviation happen? Whoa! What an idea! Even my time-worn and hard-shelled engineer’s brain can get a grip on such a
concept.After all, there’s little to parse the differences between a Collective Unconscious and a God-figure, not really. Both
ideas demand the suspension of needing a tangible peg upon which to hang otherwise intangible concepts for which I have a
LOT of evidence to support.
Why does the sound of bagpipes make the hairs of those of us who have Celtic genes stand to attention? I don’t
know, but they surely do. Why does a scrap of cloth woven and colored in a particular way (tartan) make those same
people stand tall and feel great pride? Using the concept of the Collective Unconscious, the answer is a collective memory
or, stated otherwise, “racial memory” (and not in a pejorative way like the Nazis used it, either). Personally, as a lifelong
skeptic eschewing a belief in otherwise intangible ideas, I have no problem with this one. It explains my own situation to a
“T” and provides an answer to questions with which I’ve wrestled for over half my life.And if the idea of a Collective
Unconscious makes sense, then the idea of a God-figure makes just as much sense and at least deserves an open-minded
airing, as well. I still don’t buy into the organized religion thing, though; read history.
OK, all this verbiage is a prelude to the story I’m about to tell…
Clan Davidson Society (USA) was most fortunate to have Larry and
Angie Davidson as its Regional Directors for the Central US for many years.
They manned a Clan Tent at three or four Highland Games a year, supported
Scottish activities in their home town, and contributed several very nice articles
to our newsletter. Their preliminary scouting reports were very helpful in the
planning and execution of the Clan Davidson International Gathering (CDIG) we
had in Kansas City in 2011. In short, they were a huge asset to our Clan Society
for many years.
Eventually, advancing age made their active support more difficult, and
they finally retired several years back. Wayne and Pam Davis stepped up and
assumed the vacancy, and they perform their duties in an equally fine manner, as
did Larry andAngie.
But, true to the adage that no good deed goes unpunished, the trials of
Job descended on the house of Larry and Angie, and even unto the third
generation. This tale is continued by my spouse, Evelyn… not nearly as great a
skeptic as am I, and a life-long follower of the Lutheran persuasion.
When I met Angie and Larry at the CDIG, I saw them both as active, interesting, vigorous, young retirees.
Shortly after the hurly burly of the Gathering was over, I was made aware that Larry was facing diagnostics and vigorous
treatments to combat the uninvited and unwanted cancer cells that had invaded him. But, wait, it became even worse —
just before Larry was to have begun another cycle of chemo treatment, he had a heart attack and a quadruple coronary
bypass surgery! I added Larry to Shepherd of Peace Lutheran Church prayer list. I knew that Angie would be a fantastic
support person and advocate for Larry as he started down the rocky, thorn - ridden path of the treatment regimen, even as
he was recovering from the coronary surgery.
Angie & Larry Davidson on one of
their many jaunts about the world.
It was with dismay that, shortly after this, I received the
information that Angie had flunked her diagnostics exam. She, too,
was facing the same arduous trek of climbing through the brambles
and boulders of chemotherapy.
Again, I turned to my church family and added Angie to the
prayer list. I kept following their progress by reading Angie’s
FaceBook updates. I was aware that the one splash of sunshine in
their otherwise ominously cloudy skies was the much anticipated
birth of twin grandchildren in early 2012. Their son, Andy, and his
wife, Nikki, delivered twin girls in March, 2012. Oh, no! One of the
twins, Elliana Hope, was born with severe cardiac defects, making
her survival highly problematic. Only a series of open heart surgeries
could offer any hope, and even that offered only a remote potential for
success. What else could strike this poor Davidson family?
When I turned yet a third time to add Elliana Hope to my
church’s prayer list, I had a moment of hesitation. I didn’t want to
cause those stiff-necked,
stolidly Germanic Lutherans to
think that I was making up
these sad stories to gain attention to myself... sort of a Munchausen by Proxy
scenario. My firm belief in the power of prayer overrode petty concerns about my
personal image, so back to Pastor Mayerhoff I went, for the third time! It was
hard to wrap my brain around how one family could simultaneously face so many
medical battles on so many different fronts… did some cosmic force have it in for
them? I began to reflect on a book I read many, many years ago, “When Bad
Things Happen to Good People” by Harold Kushner, which strongly disputes that
What impressed me the most was the positive, upbeat spirit that Angie
presented throughout her many FB updates. I began to follow Elliana’s progress
and treatment protocols through her Dad’s postings on the website Caring Bridge.
Again, I sensed a very positive
spirit, bolstered by a strong faith
and a loving family.
I wasn’t alone with spinning
the prayer wheel, either, knowing
that people all over the country were
on the same band wagon, playing
the same tune.
As things have progressed, Angie has completed all her treatments,
and will be considered “cured” after a few years. Larry, whose condition
is viewed as “chronic”, will continue to receive intermittent treatment, a
status that is quite acceptable to him so long as he can watch the grass
grow! Elliana has successfully completed her round of extensive and
hazardous surgeries and is now thriving, giving her sister, Savannah
Clare, a run for the money in gaining weight and becoming active
toddlers. Things for this hard-pressed family are definitely looking up.
In my 42 years as a registered nurse, wobbling around
professionally in the medical arena, I don’t recall ever experiencing such
positive outcomes in such a multi-headed hydra, medical train wreck!
Norman Vincent Peale can spiel about the Power of Positive Thinking.
For me, I will stay on the Lutherans’quiet path of “Be Still and Know...”
knowing that there is power in prayer!
And thus ends Evelyn’s portion of this story.
The Davidson twins before the round of
surgeries was complete.
Elliana Hope, on the left, is significantly smaller and less
developed than her sister, Savannah Clare, on the right.
Nikki and Andy Davidson make a very
pretty picture surrounded by their brood.
Lang may ALL thier lums reek!
The Davidson twins after the round of
surgeries was complete.
As can readily seen, Elliana wasted no
time in catching up with her sister in the
As to me, the auld skeptical Sennachie? I guaranty I was sending my own positive thoughts their way, and
encouraging many of our fellow Clansmen to do the same. We are, after all, part of that great Collective Davidson
Clansmen Unconscious, a genetic river bubbling up back in the hills of Scotland untold generations ago, and now covering
the lands of the earth. I, for one, am tremendously grateful to be a tiny drop in this river, a pebble in time, casting forth
ripples that will continue down through the ages to come.
I’m delighted to be able to tell this story to which Larry,Angie,Andy and Nikki gave their blessings. It’s just
another piece of evidence to support those otherwise intangible thoughts about our shared heritage… and what a great
heritage it is!
Over the years, I’ve become quite close with Matt Dawson, his lovely wife Stacey and the rest of the Dawson
Clan resident in New Mexico and Utah (the whole “Fam Damily” as Matt is wont to say); so much so that they invited
me to participate in Matt & Stacey’s hand-fasting wedding ceremony a few years back. While I was in Albuquerque NM
for the event, I met Matt’s daughter, Paisley, and son, Ian – progeny from a previous marriage.
Both children were handsome, charming and well-behaved (particularly for teen-agers!), and I was instantly
enamored with the fact that they were obviously in touch with their Scottish heritage. Knowing that the fate of CDS-USA
lies in the hands of our children, I asked Paisley, then around 17, if she would like to write an article for the newsletter.
She graciously assented and there the topic sat… and sat… and — well you get the idea. On the two occasions that I had
the pleasure of rubbing elbows with Paisley subsequent to our meet-up at her Dad’s wedding, I nudged her about the
article she had promised to write (have I ever mentioned that editors of newsletters have to be patient and very
Finally, last fall at Estes Park CO, my persistence paid off and Paisley proudly presented me with the following
What Does Being Scottish Mean? By Paisley Dawson
Being a Scot is about more than the kilts, red hair, bagpipe
music and shortbread. It’s more than traditional Scottish dancing
and Scottish bagpipe bands. There is so much more to being a Scot
than a lot of things that people associate with being a Scot, as much
as those things are a part of our culture and how awesome those
things are. “What, exactly, is being a Scot about then?” you might
ask. There are a great many things it’s about, but here are just a
handful of them, from my perspective.
Imagine a tradition in your culture where you and other
members of not only your family, but also many families meet for
something called The Gathering. These people come from all over
the country and the world, and it only happens on very rare
occasions. Imagine being in the same room with all of them, and the
knowledge that you share. Imagine seeing someone you’ve never
met who just so happens to look like you, or your grandparents, or
great-great-great uncle! I was lucky enough to be alive to experience
something so great that happens so rarely. I was able to meet family
from all over the world, family who I didn’t even know I had. This is what being a Scot is about; meeting new family
members, many of which you didn’t even know existed, much less were part of your family! Anyone who does not think
that is awesome is just plain cuckoo!
This leads to another topic. We Scots are very family-oriented. We welcome newcomers into the clan with open
arms and a warm smile, and are quick to stick up for our clan and our culture. We laugh and joke with what others may
consider strangers, as they may not realize since they are part of our clan, they are, by default, family! Scots are loyal, and
have always worked hard to provide for and protect their families and clan. At traditional Scottish weddings, we do
Part of Matt Dawson’s family - From Left:
Nephew, Jaxon; Mom, Charlie; Dad, Larry, Spouse, Stacey;
and daughter, Paisley.
something called “tying the knot”. I’ve always seen this as
a promise; a promise of loyalty and friendship and being
there for one another, forever and always. This is yet
another reason to be proud of your culture; and what being
a Scot means.
One very big pet peeve I have is when parents do
not teach their children to embrace and be proud of their
culture. If a tree has no roots, the tree will die. Culture
works very much the same way. If your attitude is just
sort of “meh” toward your culture, your children will grow
up with the same attitude toward theirs. If we do not
teach our children to embrace their culture, it will die.
This leads to my next topic - education. This is a
big part of being Scottish, as well as any other culture.
You and your children are Scottish through and through;
why not share your culture and teach your kids to do the
same? Find out where your ancestors came from. Find
out what clan(s) you are in, if you don’t already know.
Find out how your clan came to be. Find out your clan’s
and ancestors’ history. Why do we wear a kilt? Why do
we tie the knot? What does it mean? Get a book or grab a
laptop and look it up. Teach your kids to do the same. Relish who you are, and your culture. Remember, your culture is a
part of you and your kids are the future of tomorrow. If you do these things, your children are much more likely to follow
suit and our culture will thrive! Do not be afraid to be who you are and be proud of your culture. This leads to my next
topic; and probably the most important one.
Last spring, there was a small Scottish festival that came to Albuquerque, New Mexico. My grandparents bought
my cousin, Jaxon, a shirt that said “Scotland Rising” with a dragon behind it, and a black utility kilt. When the weekend
was over, he wore it to school. A lot of the other kids made fun of him for wearing a “skirt” and they were teasing him.
But he didn’t care, he was proud of the kilt he was wearing, and he was not afraid to make that known to them. Even
some of the teachers were telling the other kids making fun of him to take a hike and were sticking up for him. Eventually
the other kids left him alone. I was so proud of him for that. The point being made here is to not be afraid to embrace
your culture. Our ancestors were not afraid of being who they were and embracing their culture even in the face of the
English, so why should you be? Being Scottish means embracing who you are, with welcoming arms.
These are just a few of the things your culture really means, and what being Scottish is really about. Learn about
who you are. Get in touch or keep in touch with your clan. But above all, you are a Scot! Be proud of it! Be Scottish!
Garth Davidson and his lovely wife Emily are new members of CDS-USA, joining up last September. In the
exchange of emails that followed his being welcomed to CDS-USA, he mentioned he and Emily had just made a jaunt to
Scotland, coupling it to the Navy – Notre Dame football game in Dublin, Ireland. A combined trip to Ireland and
Scotland? My kinda guy!
So, me being me, I immediately begged for a story about his trip to Scotland, his first, as it turned out. He sorta
hemmed and hawed at first, but, true to his word, he actually kept his promise and two weeks later he sent the following
I doubt that Garth will ever win a Pulitzer prize, but his article is filled with the wonder of an American
descendent of the Scot who is new to this knowledge and is making his first journey “home”. I suspect Garth will
continue to fan the flames of his Scottish legacy, since he definitely “feels the rumble”! [see the article, Your Heart Will
Tell You, in the last edition of The Sporran for an explanation of “feel the rumble”.]
Paisley Dawson, with brother Ian, at the
Longs Peak HG, Estes Park CO, 2012
My First Journey Home by Garth Davidson, CDS-USA
Upon our arrival in Scotland on a Tuesday, my wife Emily and I headed to
Oban and checked in at our bed and breakfast, The Old Manse House, which was
situated halfway up the hillside within walking distance of the ferries.After check-
in, we walked down the hill into town for a lovely dinner at Eeusk, a restaurant on
the water front near one of the ferry terminals. The service and food was fantastic,
and here is where I had my first of many single-malt whiskies – the brand was
Oban. We then walked back to our room, up the same cobble-stone street we
came down and went to bed.
In the morning, we missed our breakfast because we decided to sleep in.
Once we got ourselves ready for the day, we drove down to the ferry and booked
ourselves a round-trip to the Isle of Mull. Once we pulled into Craignure, we drove
to Duart Castle and did a self-guided tour. We learned of a story that one of the
castle’s residents was married to a wife who was barren. Since he wanted to
perpetuate his legacy through male offspring, he plotted to “remove” his fruitless
spouse. His plan was maroon her on a rock that is under water for 12 hours of the day during high tide within sight of the
castle. Once he forced her off the boat during low tide, fishermen could hear her desperate screams and came to rescue her
before she drowned. She was saved and sought refuge at her brother’s home – some years later after this coward had
remarried, his former brother-in-law murdered him for his ill-conceived plot to kill his sister. The names escape me, but the
story did not. I also thought it was neat that the main clan that has been associated with Duart Castle is MacLean, whose
pictures were scattered throughout its walls showing family gatherings including today’s current descendants.
[Note: Oh, how stories from the past get changed! From the
MacLean Clan website comes a bit more factual data regarding this
story… The person whose name Garth couldn’t recall was Lachlan
Cattanach MacLean, 11th Clan Chief; Born - circa 1465; Died -
November 10, 1523 (aged 58).
Maclean is said to have had at least six wives or
mistresses. To cement his alliance, with the Argylls he married
Katherine Campbell, daughter of Archibald Campbell, 2nd Earl of
Argyll. Although politically convenient, the marriage was not a
success, as she tried to poison him and he arranged to have her
drowned by placing her on a rock in the sound of Mull. She was
rescued just before the high tide drowned her.
Sir John Campbell of Cawdor put out a “contract” on
Lachlan Cattanach Maclean as revenge for the attempted drowning
of his wife. Lachlan was killed in Edinburgh on 10 November 1523.
From Duart Castle, we still had some time until our return
ferry ride so we drove up to Tobermory and had a drink. Here is
where I tasted my first Tobermory Scotch. The town reminded me
of Rainbow Row in Charleston, SC and of the Painted Ladies in
San Francisco. The waterfront buildings were all painted with
vibrant colors, with each having an opposing color to differentiate
one from the other. On our drive back to the ferry terminal in
Craignure, I stopped to take a picture on top of a ship wreck
posing as a clueless captain that hadn’t realized I had run aground.
Once back in Oban, we drove back to our B & B and
walked into town for dinner at the Waterfront Bar & Seafood
Restaurant where we were told we had to try fish and chips. To be
honest, we weren’t really crazy about the dish but all in all, it
wasn’t the worst thing we’ve ever had. Here I tried my third type
of Scotch, Ledaig [pronounced “let-chick”. Sennachie] also
hailing from the Tobermory Distillery. This had a very smoky
Emily & Garth ride the waves on
the ferry in the Firth of Lorn.
Colorful houses look out over Tobermory harbor.
Duart Castle as seen from the Oban ferry.
flavor, more pungent than the Tobermory or Oban. [As
an aside, Tobermory brand whisky is made with
unpeated malted barley, while the more traditional
Ledaig whisky is made with peated barley, thus
accounting for the difference in both the taste and the
nose of the two whiskies. Sennachie]
One thing I forgot to mention — when we were
out on the Isle of Mull and in Oban, it was constantly
windy, overcast, and cold. We wore our ski-jackets to
keep warm and I often wondered how and why people
lived here for thousands of years in such harsh conditions. To me, this explained why history has always painted the Picts
and the Scots as hearty and fierce warriors whose resolve resembled that of the Spartans. I feel as though there is a part of
me that also has this same disposition that has inherently guided me through hardships like a Scandinavian relying on their
Inner Svend to find the right course and direction.
Thursday was our last day in Oban, and in order to catch the
ferry to the Isle of Islay we left before breakfast was served so we did
not get our money’s worth for both days. When we arrived at the ferry
terminal, we had no problem getting on but the returning ferry was sold
out. They suggested that we probably would not have a problem
catching a ferry to the Isle of Arran (forgoing our voyage to Islay) but
we had to drive approximately two hours to get to the ferry terminal at
Cloanaig. Upon our arrival at Cloanaig, there was no terminal, just a slab
of concrete that looked like a boat slip. After waiting 15 minutes, a ship
finally appeared at a distance. The surf was rough as the wind was
picking up, tossing the boat from side to side. As it approached and
lowered its front end, I had a flash back from the opening scene in the
movie Saving Private Ryan where Tom Hanks was trying to keep his
composure as he futilely lead his troops onto Omaha Beach at
Normandy on D-Day. We pulled into Lochranza on the Isle of Arran 30
minutes later and did the Arran Distillery tour. Here we learned about the
rich history Arran has for the makings of Scotch as well as the process of creating this tasty elixir.
The factoid that stood out the most to me from my distillery tour was that Robert Burns, at one brief time, was a
“gauger” (excise tax man) which meant he was part of a particular law enforcement to regulate illegal whisky distilleries.
Thursday evening, we caught a ferry from Brodick back to the mainland atArdrossan where we drove to our final
destination, Edinburgh. My father once told me, “ If you really want to understand a city, you must first see and breathe the
air of its surrounding parts in order to fully
comprehend the lay of the land as well as the
people who call it home”; then, only then, will
it make sense. This is what my father and I did
when traveling to San Francisco together, first
visiting Mendocino and Big Sur. Only now, I
was experiencing this beautiful place for the
first time with my wife who had the same
appreciation and enamor with it as I.
After checking into the Holyrood
Aparthotel near the Royal Mile, we quickly
went to sleep. Friday morning started off great
with a walk up the Royal Mile to Edinburgh
Castle where we again learned a lot of
interesting facts and stories such as the
Scottish Crown jewels being stored there
during World War II in case of a German
invasion. Just outside the castle, I came across
Some of San Francisco’s Painted Ladies
Rainbow Row in Charleston, South Carolina
View from Garth’s and Emily’s B&B in Oban.
a tartan store where I bought a Davidson tie for myself
and a scarf for my father!
Later that night was the best part of my trip – a
visit to actual Scottish relatives that I had never met
before! The relationship stems back to my great, great
grandfather and my relative (Patricia who is my father’s
age) showed me letters from the 1800’s. She and her
family live in a part of town called Leith and were
extremely friendly and hospitable. Her husband shared
some of his finer whisky, Highland Park, which tasted
absolutely amazing.After five of those, we were all
sitting in her living room laughing, sharing stories, and
reconnecting even though we were worlds apart. There
is no greater feeling than meeting someone that looks like you, thinks like you, doesn’t sound like you but yet does sound
like you! [Aye, lad… our Davidson genes are verrrra strong, indeed! Sennachie]
I walked away from the visit with Pat feeling very grounded, and as we walked through the streets of Edinburgh the
following day, I felt as though I had returned to a place I was from in another life. Although I am only 32 years old, and
may not have the stripes of a seasoned veteran, this trip for me was one of fulfillment. My Scottish heritage is only 25% of
my makeup, but I feel as though my features, my thoughts, my mannerisms, and certainly my surname are one with which
I identify the most. That’s not to say I am not proud of my Czech, Polish, or German ancestry because those are a part of
who I am… which ultimately is American. But meeting true, honest to goodness family, and walking the land that so many
have trod before for thousands of years will leave a lasting and profound impression on me that I will think about for the
rest of my life.
Nice story… thanks, Garth!
A Letter to the Sennachie
I seem to run into CDS-USA Lifetime Member Doug Ikelman at least once a year and
always enjoy swapping lies with him. Doug’s interests are wide-ranging and we never have a
problem finding things to chat about. Doug has several tartans of his design registered with
Scotland’s Register of Tartans. Here are a few of them:
To see all of Doug’s registered tartans, and also a few others with a Germanic connection, check out Scotland’s
Registry of Tartans [http://www.tartanregister.gov.uk/index.aspx].
Edinburgh Castle looms over Centre City
Doug’s Unofficial German TartanTartan based on colors
of Gernan Flag
Doug at the CDIG
July 6, 2012
I have received and read the latest issue of The Sporran with great interest and enjoyment. You ask for
contributions, so I thought to send this brief encounter experienced at the Smoky Mountain Highland Games. I do not know
if you would consider the below something to print in the Sporran and would not be disappointed if it was not printed.
There are number of German’s who would like to wear tartan and come to tartan information tents and weavers’
tents to see what they might wear. Phil Smith writes that “Some Pennsylvania Germans have chosen to wear a plain kilt in
Jaeger green for Scottish athletic events.”
That aside, the below is an example of some of the many different things that I have experienced at games over the
A German Side of Highland Games
At the games, special things happen. At the 2012 Smoky Mountain Highland Games, one event was talking to a
husband and wife who had a beer drinking schnauzer. I was in the beer tent drinking a Gaelic ale and listening to the
entertainment in the big tent next to me. I noticed a husband and wife down the table from me. The dog jumped up on to
the husband’s lap. First the he gave the schnauzer a drink of water from a bowl.
The dog then stretched out its head and started to sniff at a plastic cup with some beer in it. So, the husband let the
dog lap up some of beer. The wife noticed me watching and said that the dog was celebrating his German heritage. I asked
if the dog ever got drunk and she said no. Later, the husband came down and asked if he could take a picture of me. He
said that he wanted to get a kilt and did not know which tartan to buy.
They were German and the closest connection they could come to a Scottish family was that her niece had married
into one. I suggested my German National tartan which was designed for people of German descent to wear and used only
the colors of the German Flag and suggested that he Google German National Tartan on the internet for information on the
I enjoyed my ale and the dog seemed to enjoy his.
From Times Gone ByFrom Times Gone ByFrom Times Gone ByFrom Times Gone ByFrom Times Gone By
Brigadier General William Lee Davidson, American Hero — Part IV by Debbie Sorrels Mecca
This is the fourth and final part of a four part series about General
William Lee Davidson, an American Revolutionary War era North Carolinian.
Debbie is the 4th Great Grandchild of William and an enthusiastic supporter of
all things Davidson. The first part of this saga was published in the July ’10
Sporran, the second part in the July ’11 edition, and the third part in the July,’12
edition. The whole series has been reassembled and placed on the CDS-USA
website in the Notable Davidsons of the US Section.
By December 20th, Greene had moved his camp from Charlotte. Upon
reaching Ramsour’s Davidson found less than ninety volunteers. The Cherokee
Indians, encouraged by Cornwallis, had chosen this particular moment to
perpetrate a massacre on the frontier, and the western militia had gone after them,
thus delaying Davidson’s expected departure until December 26th. Greene then
appointed Colonel William R. Davie to Commissary-general, much against the
wishes of the active young officer who had killed more enemies single-handed than
any other man in the army. The transfer left Davidson without a cavalry officer
and ended that picturesque partnership which had immortalized the “Hornet’s
Debbie Sorrels Mecca
It was to Joseph Graham that Davidson now turned, offering him the command of the
cavalry if he would raise it. In two or three weeks, Graham had collected upwards of fifty youth
of his acquaintance, all of whom managed to acquire rifles and about fifteen had pistols. As true
dragoons, they could act as infantry or cavalry as emergency required. Mounted generally on
strong and durable horses, with a pair of saddle bags for the rider and a portion of food for the
mount, they were ready for service.
By December 25th, Davidson had crossed the Catawba, supplying Morgan with 120 men
then returning to bring forward a draft of 500 more. Davidson, in Charlotte, was then using all his
powers of persuasion to bring in the militia. It was the time that tried men’s souls and many chose
family over country after having already having served repeatedly and with scant remuneration
while leaving their farms neglected and exposed. Both Greene and Morgan counted heavily on
Davidson’s influence. There was no busier man in the state than the Brigadier-general of Salisbury District; however, on
January 2nd he may have cantered up to Centre, for on that date his namesake and last child was born.
American maneuvers convinced Cornwallis that winter quarters at Winnsboro were untenable with Marion
marauding below him and Morgan and Greene menacing his flanks, the Earl’s surest defense was offensive action and the
army began to move toward the Catawba. Tarelton was dispatched to move with his legion to ride ahead and embroil
Daniel Morgan. Despite Morgan’s apprehension of being attacked by Tarelton’s superior forces, on the 17th of January,
Morgan achieved a great victory at the Battle of Cowpens. The whole country praised the heroes of Cowpens, in some
respects, Morgan had achieved the most brilliant coup of the Revolution. Raw militia (many of them Davidson’s troops)
had miraculously stood their ground against the elite of the BritishArmy. At King’s Mountain,
the frontiersmen had silenced the Tories, at Cowpens they conquered a Royal legion.
The Brigadier’s disappointment was keen at having missed another such battle while
building the army man by man, but he gave Morgan his wholehearted applause. Meanwhile,
Charlotte, deserving a celebration, had a Feu de joie at the news of the conquest. Few
American towns had borne the war as long and remained as rebellious. The militia were now
coming in fast and he wrote Morgan on January 21st that he thought he would have at least
600 men shortly to march “where ever it may be proper.” Despite his optimism, the farmers’
planting time was approaching, and the families would depend on their being at home.
Furthermore, it was common rumor that the British would burn every house in their way if its
owner were not at home.
In the meantime, Cornwallis continued to circle northwesterly toward the Catawba.
Morgan took post at Sherrill’s Ford as it seemed certain that the British would attempt to
cross at one of the fords in the vicinity. From Sherrill’s downward were five fords and all
needed to be covered. On the 25th of January, Cornwallis brought his army. Morgan was
again hard pressed with an ailment in his hip which gave him great pain. Even though he
realized the hurt his retiring would be to the service, he was unable to preserver while having every confidence in the ability
of Gen. Davidson, Col. Pickens and Gen. Sumter to manage the militia better than he could. He had informed Greene that
he had received intelligence of the enemy’s rapid approach and that his numbers at this time were too weak to fight them.
His intention was to move towards Salisbury in order to get near the main army along with General Davidson.
Cornwallis and Tarleton had been reported to be forty miles northwest of Charlotte. General Greene would not
send Davidson on an expedition to destroy a mill that would provide provisions for the British army, but instead was
ordered to stop Cornwallis – an end to which the disappointed young
Brigadier must devote his every effort.
By the afternoon of January 28th, Cornwallis had reached
Beattie’s Ford, which was known to be the best. In the meantime,
Davidson continued to bring in fresh support. Couriers were dispatched
to public gatherings to rally the reluctant en masse. One of the riders
arrived during a church service of the Reverend James Hall of Fourth
Creek. Parson Hall was a dependable Whig who after a hasty glance at
the paper, brought his sermon to a close, descended from the pulpit, and
issued a call for volunteers, placing his own name at the head of the list.
By January 29th, the Parson’s company joined Davidson on the
Lord Charles Cornwallis
The Catawba River in autumn.
Davidson’s recruiting strategy accomplished its aims. Over 300 men flocked to
augment the camp at Beattie’s. Parson Thomas McCaule of Centre Church, and John Dickey
captained a company from the same congregation. For liberty or death, the sword of the Lord
and of Gideon was drawn.
Morgan came down from Sherrill’s on the 29th to view the post. He wrote to Greene,
“General Davidson is here with eight hundred men…the enemy is within ten miles of the place
in force; their advance is in sight…” To guard the most important fords, Davidson reorganized
his forces, placing his men along the way with 25 to guard Cowan’s with Lt. Thomas
Davidson of Mecklenburg. General Davidson remained at Beattie’s with about five hundred
men, among them the cavalry of Joseph Graham.
By the 31st, Cornwallis had secured sufficient information regarding theAmericans to
make further delay in crossing both useless and dangerous. Rains falling then appeared likely
to swell the river even higher. Morgan had determined to head to Salisbury then Guilford
Courthouse with Greene headed in that direction but called for a consultation between Greene, Morgan, Davidson and
Colonel Washington. The men retired from the camp and, seating themselves on a log, held a conversation of about twenty
minutes. While the details of this meeting have not survived, certainly neither Greene nor Morgan felt any confidence that
the Catawba could be held against a British crossing, their hopes lie in causing interference to slow the advance.
In about an hour after Greene’s departure, General Davidson gave orders to the cavalry under Graham and about
250 infantry under Col William Polk to march down the river to Cowan’s Ford, four miles below Beattie’s, leaving nearly
the same number at the latter place with Col Thomas Farmer. Davidson then told Graham that it was Greene’s opinion
that the enemy were determined to cross the river immediately and would probably send their
cavalry over in the night by some private ford. In the morning when the infantry attempted to
force a passage the horsemen would fall upon the American rear on its way to Salisbury. The
Brigadier therefore ordered Graham to have mounted patrols pass up and down the river all
night. Davidson’s party arrived at Cowan’s Ford about dusk and encamped three-fourths of a
mile to the south and rear of Lt. Thomas Davidson’s picket stationed on the water’s edge.
There were two fords at Cowan’s—a horse ford and a wagon ford; and Davidson’s
disposition placed protection at each. As he had reason to fear for a rear attack from
Tarleton’s cavalry, he stationed the men with him on a hill about half a mile back from the
horse ford, leaving the picket on the bank at the other egress.
On the same night, January 31st, Cornwallis got ready to move. According to the
words of Cornwallis himself, General Davidson was supposed to be posted six miles above
Mc-Cowan’s with 500 militia and Lt. Col. Webster was detached with all the baggage to
Beattie’s Ford where he was to make every possible demonstration by cannonading and
otherwise of an intention to force a passage there. Cornwallis himself marched at one in the morning towards Cowan’s
Ford through mud and swamp. Determined by that time to move forward despite the flooded condition of the river , he and
Brigadier O’Hara and the Brigade of Guards under his command, were ordered to march on. In order to prevent confusion,
the army was ordered not to fire until they gained the opposite bank.
The Redcoats were compelled to hold to each other even to stand against the current. At the order to advance,
Lord Cornwallis dashed first into the river mounted on a very
fine spirited horse. They were piloted by Frederick Hager, a
Tory of the neighborhood, who took them along the wagon
The pickets on the eastern bank were asleep,
according to the story related years later by one of them,
Robert Henry, a boy of sixteen at the time. But the noise of
the Redcoats crossing awakened them and their firing brought
General Davidson and his men racing toward the wagon ford.
Unaware that the enemy had landed, Davidson dashed down
to the water’s edge.
For a few minutes the action was lively; the
militiamen were picking off many Britishers struggling in the
water. The return fire was heavy, and hardly had Davidson
arrived when he was struck form his horse. Polk wheeled in
An artist’s rendition of the Battle of Cowan’s Ford
his saddle and to rally the men—Davidson did not turn to follow. For a moment he stared in the
direction of the man with the smoking gun. Then, without a sound, he fell from his horse.
Within a few minutes, several otherAmericans were killed. The British loss was greater, but the
skirmish proved a defeat for theAmericans.
February 1, 1781, was a dark day in Mecklenburg. General Davidson, an amazingly
successful organizer, had been the driving force of the area’s resistance. His death, as General
Washington and the Congress would testify, was a great blow.
Davidson’s wife, Mary Elizabeth Brevard Davidson, who had given birth to a son only a
short time before this fateful night was brought to his burial. His body had been defiled by the
British and he was taken to Hopewell Presbyterian Church to bury—a few miles south of his
home church, Centre Presbyterian. He was buried under the cloak of darkness to prevent the
possibility of further desecration. His wife who had endured extended absences by her husband
would bravely raise their children without their father. And to add to her pain, her parent’s home
was burned the next day by British soldiers—some historical accounts say that “Bloody” Tarleton
was commanding this action.As her elderly mother Jane MacWhorter Brevard tried to rescue
precious items from the burning home, she was roughed up and the items thrown back in to burn
with the soldiers exclaiming “...she had 8 sons fighting for the damned Rebels...”
General Davidson had been killed by a rifle ball through the heart. Frederick Hager’s
rifle, said the neighbors, shot such a ball. Hager went west, and died in Arkansas in 1814. Tradition persists in naming the
Tory as Davidson’s slayer.
General Davidson was dead but the day was not done. The British were
on the march and within an hour the whole country was in motion. Terrified
women, old men, and children despoiled their homes of treasure and drove their
wagons in all directions. Teams were goaded through the miry clay with loads of
beds, babies, and chicken coops.
About ten miles from Cowan’s Ford, on the road to Salisbury, was
Torrence’s Tavern, which had been selected as an American rendezvous for
February 1st. Cornwallis learned of the location and dispatched Tarleton to rout
those there. At the tavern bedlam reigned. Soldiers from all around were massed
on the road. Suddenly someone shouted, “Tarleton is coming!” The militia
formed as best they could but the dock-tailed British cavalry, the nightmare of the
helpless, put all to flight. Beds were ripped up and feathers covered the lane.
Furniture was battered to pieces and innocent chickens beheaded. Ten dead
Americans, several of them old and unarmed, were left on the ground by the
dragoons of “bloody Tarleton.” Not satisfied, the British on the day after burned
the tavern of the Widow Torrence, whose husband had fallen at Ramsour’s Mill.
Years prior to his appointment with destinyWilliam Lee Davidson had befriended Light Horse Harry Lee while
enduring the bitter cold winter at Valley Forge. Lee stated in his memoirs:
”The loss of Brigadier Davidson would have been always felt in any state of the war. It was particularly detrimental in its
effects at this period, as he was the chief instrument relied upon by (Gen. Nathaniel) Geene
for the assembly of the militia, an event all important at this crisis and anxiously desired by
the American general. The ball passed through his breast and he instantly fell dead. This
promising soldier was thus lost to his country in the meridian of life and at a moment when
his services would have been highly beneficial to her. He was a man of popular manner,
pleasing address, active and indefatigable; devoted to the profession of arms and to the
great cause for which he fought. His future usefulness may be inferred from his former
conduct. The Congress of the United States in gratitude for his services and in
commemoration of their sense of his worth passed suitable resolutions.”
With Davidson dead, Greene’s prospects of the “fine field and great glory” which
he had confidently predicted with militia aid became difficult. When the news of his
friend’s death reached William Sharpe in Congress, he wrote to Washington, “You may rely
upon it that the fall of General Davidson has left the people without
a head in whom they have confidence as an officer...”
General Green wrote to Sumter on February 3rd, “We have
been obliged to retire over the Yadkin . . . . The loss of General
Davidson is a great misfortune at this time. I stayed at one of the
places of rendezvous the night after the enemy crossed until
midnight, but not a man appeared, nor has there a single man joined
us except a few belonging to South Carolina…” And Cornwallis,
close behind, reported to the colonial Secretary of State in Britian
that the events of February 1st had “so effectually dispirited the
Militia that we met with no further opposition in our march to the
Yadkin, through one of the most rebellious tracts inAmerica.”
Cornwallis met Greene at Guilford Court-House and heavy
losses were reported on both sides, with the British holding the field
then eventually marching into Virginia. But Washington soon
returned to his native state, acquiring surrender from Cornwallis at Yorktown on October 19, 1781. Thus came the end of
Revolution and birth to a new Nation, provided by the sacrifice of those great patriots who were willing to sacrifice “our
lives, our fortunes, our sacred honor.”
It took a great personality of the Revolution to rally the Americans. Underfed, ill clad, and unpaid veterans took
heart from one whose sacrifice was greater than their own—a man would be hard put to discover a more commendable
example of patriotism. Scarcely out of his twenties and with half a dozen dependents, Davidson had claims to exemption
which few could better. Yet he was in the vanguard of active patriots, a leader among those in Mecklenburg and Rowan
who made their counties conspicuous for rebellion. Davidson could not have “sold” his convictions so convincingly had
there been any doubt in his own mind as to their vailidity. He was one of those fortunate individuals whose faith in his
cause was never enfeebled by skepticism.
One sentimental, elderly, lady came closest to an explanation of the true
value of the man to the Revolution as described in the book, “Piedmont
Partisan, The Life andTimes of Brigadier-General William Lee Davidson” by
”We have become almost too selfish to understand the agony which ran through
the hearts of the people when the news flew from house to house that brave,
good Richard Barry and his comrades were bringing the blood-stained corpse of
General William Davidson from Cowan’s Ford to the house of his aged friend,
Mrs. Samuel Wilson. We cannot understand how it was that women who were
no kin to him wrung their hands and wept and why sixty years afterwards the
tragic tale was told in hushed and saddened tones.”
That he was personable and likable is obvious, but his influence was
based on a way of life and an attitude of mind with which contemporaries had
been familiar for thirty years. They knew him for what he was. The Scots-
Irish were singularly “responsive to leadership.” Their clannish forbears for
generations had acknowledged a chieftain. They required a personification of
their cause around which to rally. Imported generals had proved
disappointments and the backwoodsmen turned to a product of their own
North Carolina did not overlook Davidson’s widow and orphans.
William Sharpe, John Dickey and Griffith Rutherford were responsible for a
settlement of 1,033 pounds from the state to Davidson’s dependents in 1783.
In 1786, North Carolina granted the heirs 5,750 acres in Davidson County
(Tennessee) and the family removed to that location. The national government
Battle of Guildford Courthouse
Portrait of a young Chalmers Davidson.
Chalmers was a member of the CDS-USA
prior to his death in 1994.
added 450 acres in Ohio in 1792. Davidson County was created by
North Carolina in 1783, later becoming Tennessee and in 1822 another
county in North Carolina, appropriately cut off from Rowan, was named
for the Brigadier in his own locality.
Fifty years later the memory of the Brigadier was
commemorated when the Presbyterians of his native heath created
Davidson College in North Carolina. Of all the memorials to the young
Brigadier of Salisbury District, the College which bears his name today is
perhaps the most fitting, symbolizing as it does the perennial hopes of the
future. The brief day of the Piedmont Partisan closed on the hope of a
better tomorrow. What talents he possessed were devoted with unstinted
loyalty to the advancement of a great cause.
The main heart of this fourth and final
portion of William Lee Davidson’s story was
inspired by Chalmers Davidson’s “Piedmont
Partisan: The Life and Times of Brigadier
General William Lee Davidson”.
It has been an honor to share my 4th Great
Grandfather’s story with people who are interested
in Clan Davidson history. As with all looks back at
history, we pull our information from the best
source we find available. I have read several
accounts of William Lee’s life, and especially
varying accounts of the Battle of Cowan’s Ford.
All follow the same general story line with only
slight additions and variations.
Note: Monuments to Davidson and Nash
were constructed in the form of two arches at
Guilford Courthouse National Military Park,
Greensboro, NC. Davidson’s arch was constructed
of granite in at the cost of $10,000 and dedicated
July 4, 1905. The monument stood 33 feet high
with a width of 28 feet and spanned New Garden
Road allowing one-way traffic to pass through its span. The arch later underwent controversy from persons wishing the
battlefield to appear more in its original appearance and was dismantled in 1937—the pieces of the destroyed monument
were used along the park roads. Both arches to Davidson and Nash suffered the same fate.
And thus ends Debbie’s story. It is a very good story about a very good man who gave his all to the advancement
of his country. We shall always be indebted to him and all his co-revolutionists for their sacrifices which make it possible
for us to pursue our love for our other “home” country’s heritage and our Clan.
I received a most interesting email last June, from a gentleman by the name of Robin Crofton, resident in
Durham County, England. Robin is in possession of a batch of letters written by a pair of Davidson brothers who were
living in Louisville, Kentucky during the American Civil War and sent back to their home in UK. Here, in the words
written by Robin, is the gist of his message:
“I have a family tree starting with Andrew Davidson who married Janet Davidson in Eckford, England, in 1760.
My main aim is to trace the family of his grandsons, Andrew born 1823 Sprouston (UK), died Louisville in 1889 and
James born Sprouston 1835 and died in Louisville in 1859. I have in my possession letters written by these two brothers
during the Civil War to their relatives in Tudhoe, England and would like to pass them on to known descendants. I have a
John George Davidson died 1965 Louisville, a Morris Way Davidson died 1965 in same place as did many others.
Davidson College, Davidson, North Carolina.
It is located approximately 10 miles from Cowan’s Ford
where General William Lee Davidson was killed.
I also enclose an article that I wrote for the Davidson Clan in Scotland, please feel free to reproduce it as you
wish. I can send the files of the letters later, it is quite a lot. I also enclose my Davidson Tree including some in your
country. In the 1990s a lady in Lexicon did the research for me. The Janet b.1818 died 1873 is my Great Grandmother
and The Villa in Tudhoe, a village 10 miles from Durham City where I was born, was the main home of the Fleming
Family and where the letters were sent to.”
The article that follow is that which was so kindly sent by Robin. Unfortunately, the family tree that Robin
mentions is way too big to reproduce here, but I can send a PDF reproduction electronically to those who may be
Brothers at War — Letters Written By Two Davidson Brothers During TheAmerican Civil War To
Their Relatives In England – Part I
by Robin Crofton, reprinted with permission.
This article is an account of the experiences of two Davidson brothers who lived through the American Civil
War and is based upon letters they sent from Louisville, Kentucky to their relatives in Tudhoe, near Spennymoor in County
Andrew Davidson (1823-1900) emigrated to America in 1841 at the age of 18; his brother James (1835-1915) in
1857 at the age of 24. They were the sons of James Davidson (1786-1857) who married Jane Colville (1791-1875), a
schoolmaster at Sprouston, near Kelso, in the Scottish Boarders, where the brothers were born. After he retired, he and his
wife moved down to Tudhoe to live with their daughter Janet (1818-1902) who had married William Fleming (1818-1873)
in 1844. William had left Ashyburn Farm, Eckford in 1844 to be LandAgent to the Salvin Estate, based at Burnhall, a few
miles from Durham City. They lived at The Villa in Tudhoe.
Andrew lived in New York for about six years where he married Caroline (1830-1909), and worked in a bookshop
belonging to a Mr. Carter. (USALetters 1 and 2) He then moved to Louisville in Kentucky to open his own bookshop
selling religious books. In May 1857, he wrote to his father, suggesting that James, his brother, might like to join him.
According to a letter written to his parents dated 19th November 1857, James was in Liverpool but he had to put
off his voyage because he was confined to bed with a fever. By the time of his next letter of 11th December, he had heard
that his father was very ill but had already booked his ticket to sail to New York on a mail steamer on the 20th, arriving
there nine days letter. In his letter he says ‘I hope my dear father that you will forgive me for grieving you so often. I have
no doubt you do.’ but he never received a reply for his father died on Christmas Day.
James was in Louisville by the following May as his first letter confirms. He married Elizabeth Charlton (1834-
1915) who was born in England, in about 1859 (their first son James was born in 1860). James was soon employed
publishing a religious newspaper ‘The Presbyterian Herald’. Later, because of the War, James had to sell his paper to a
consortium which included his brotherAndrew. The paper was renamed ‘The True Presbyterian’, obviously they were both
staunch Presbyterians like all the family in Scotland and England. This religious fervour keeps appearing in their letters.
Both brothers were living with their separate families in Louisville, Kentucky, but we will
soon see that they were on different sides as happened in many families; brother fighting brother
and sons fighting their fathers, but neither brother took part in the war; James because he
remained a British subject,Andrew did become anAmerican citizen, but for reasons explained in
the following letters, was able to avoid the draft.
The Confederate States of America
‘The American Civil War’ or ‘The War Between the
States’ as Southerners still call it, was in response to the election of
Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States in 1860. The
causes of the war were complex but slavery was the central source
of escalating political tension in the 1850s. The Republican Party
was determined to prevent any spread of slavery beyond the states in which it already existed
and many Southern leaders had threatened secession if the Republican candidate, Lincoln,
won the 1860 election. Following Lincoln’s victory, many Southern whites felt that disunion
was their only option. While not all Southerners saw themselves as fighting to preserve
slavery, many had close family ties to slavery. To Northerners, in contrast, the motivation
was primarily to preserve the Union, not to abolish slavery and the Republicans strongly
advocated nationalism and they denounced threats of disunion as treason. Eleven southern
states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of
America; the other twenty five states supported the federal government, ‘The Union’.
War started on 10th April 1861, when Confederate forces attacked and caused the surrender of a U.S. military
installation at Fort Sumter, Charleston in South Carolina. Lincoln responded by calling for a volunteer army from each state
to recapture federal property. Both sides raised armies and over the next four years one of the deadliest wars in American
history was fought which lasted until 9thApril 1865. The total
deaths were 620,000 soldiers; about ten per cent of Northern
males and thirty per cent of Southern males. During the war,
Lincoln, issued the Emancipation Proclamation which made
ending slavery the main goal.
In a letter dated17th May 1858, the heading shown
above, James tells his nephews about his new life.
The first time that we hear about the War is in a letter,
written by James, (No. 28) to his sister, Janet, the wife of
William Fleming. The date is missing but he tells her of his
intention of starting his paper, ‘The Presbyterian Herald’, a
paper ‘loyal to both church and state’, and by the content was
obviously written about 1861. He complains about the treatment
by the English press on the events unfolding inAmerica:-
‘The Union lives and will survive this shock, and all the
machinations of an unprincipled and lying Press whether in
England or anywhere else. McClellan has not surrendered and
will not surrender and his army will soon be reinforced by 600,000 brave men who are springing to arms to defend their
country and their nationality. – the loyal portion of this country will put down this horrid rebellion if it takes the last man and
the last dollar and if my poor life is needed I will not hesitate to give it in such a cause so that my little Jamie (born 1860)
should live he may still claim the proud title of an American Citizen. Dear Sister, I do not despond about the Union cause. If
I did I would leave America tomorrow. –And if England should be mad enough to offer any interference in the great
struggle for liberty and for the life of the continent. I tell you she will repent it in dust and ashes. - The Press of England
has from the start aided and abetted rebellion in holding out to the rebels the hope of intervention. If they could just do so
and so, England would acknowledge the independence of the South and force the blockade. – My hope is in the Lord who
doeth right that He will yet deliverAmerica from her enemies’
Andrew writes to his mother on 12th June 1861, (Letter 7) that he fears that if war continues for much longer, they
may not be able to keep out of it. Already business is affected.
Confererate States of America ca 1862
‘So far the difficulties in the form of actual war have
been kept from our state - I feel sure that God will protect me
and if am called away I trust in Him still. O what a blessing to
trust in Christ in these days of trouble’.
Seven days later, on the 19th June 1861, (Letter 22)
James writes to his brother George, who was a gardener at
Floors Castle near Kelso:-
‘What a change inAmerica since I returned from
England. Less than a year ago everything was peaceful and
prosperous – and now wide spread desolation and dismay all
over the land. – Ruin and bankruptcy staring us in the face. –
Oh sad and fearful day for once happy America that brother
should be arranged against brother and father against son – they
would shoot each other down in the battlefield. - Virginia is at
present the theatre of war. The Federal (U.S.) troops having put
down secessionism in Maryland are now making advances into
Virginia where the SouthernArmy is being concentrated. There
is a perfect reign of terror in the South, all freedom of speech is
gone and men must be for the South or suffer the consequences. Thousands have fled leaving all behind them. Kentucky at
this time is the quietest state in the country having taken a neutral stand. But the feeling for the Union is getting stronger
every day. The Herald is suffering a great deal and we may have to suspend it.
However, Kentucky’s peace was soon shattered when Lincoln persuaded them to join the Union. In September of
1861, both brothers wrote to their mother, Andrew first (Letter 8) on the 18th:-
‘Kentucky has been occupied by both Federal and Confederate troops - Still I do not fear any personal harm I
have had no hand in the matter and do not intend taking up arms in favour of either party. I am yet a citizen of Great
Britain and will appeal to her for protection from the oppression of either party. – I have as you know always been
opposed to this war believing no good will come out of it and I fear many people will go bankrupt if the war goes on as long
as I fear it will’.
To be continued as Part II in the next edition of The Sporran
The story that follows was first published in the 2012 edition of The Pheon, the journal of the Clan Davidson
Association (UK). The author, Bob Davidson, is the editor of this fine publication, and he has done a bang-up job with
this article. Thanks Bob!
A Davidson’s part in the “Great Escape”
Pilot Officer Barry Anderson Davidson (1914 - 1996)
After being shot down in July 1940, Barry Davidson spent the rest of the
war in prison camps including the infamous Stalag Luft III at Sagan in Poland. For
his skill in obtaining the necessary escape materials from the German guards, his
fellow POW’s gave him the nickname of “The Scrounger”. He was involved in
several break-out attempts, the best known called the “The Great Escape”, which
was made into a Hollywood film and Barry’s part was played by James Garner. This
is the story of the remarkable life of a Canadian “Davidson”
Barry Anderson Davidson was born in Calgary in 1914 He was the middle
son of five boys born to Edward and Alice Davidson née Vicary. As a boy, Barry
developed an interest in aeroplanes and flying and with his friends would go out to a
local airstrip to watch them take off and land. After leaving school, he started
working at a Calgary stockbrokers but his interest in flying continued particularly
Map showing Louisville in Kentucky, and
some of the places mentioned in the letters:-
Perryville, Chattanooga, Knoxville and Charleston.
Pilot Officer Barry Davidson
as a POW in 1942
after meeting Fred McCall, a famous aviator and flying instructor. Fred persuaded him to take flying lessons and although
money was tight at the time, he did manage a number of short flights. By 1939, he had completed 8 hours in de Havilland
Gipsy and Tiger Moths. His ambition to become a full time flier was fired up after his first solo flight and as the Royal
CanadianAir Force (RCAF) were not recruiting at the time he looked around for another way to achieve his objective. A
letter was sent to the Chinese General Chiang Kai-Shek offering his services in the Flying Tigers, which were battling
against the Japanese at the time. The reply from Madame Chiang Kai-Shek, which he treasured all his life, thanked him for
his interest but stated that they had no vacancies. With the RCAF still not recruiting aircrew Barry turned his attention to the
RAF and contacted the recruiting officer in Ottawa. He was asked to attend an interview, the long journey from Calgary
being successful, as he was accepted for flight training in the RAF.
With 12 fellow Canadian airmen Barry was sent to Montreal and in July 1939
they boarded the J.S. Antonia for Liverpool. On arrival they took the train to Nottingham
and from there were taken to the small RAF Station at Desford just south of the city.
Here he commenced his flying training as anAircraftsman 2nd. Class and was soon
flying Tiger Moths from the airfield’s grass strip. Barry quickly adapted to RAF life and
after his basic flying training was posted to Grantham for advanced instruction in the
classic pre-war fighters, the Hawker Hinds and Harts. He was also interested in sport and
was soon organizing and playing ice hockey as part of the RAF (Canadian Section),
which defeated the Nottingham Panthers 7 to 4 in 1939.
In December 1939 Barry was posted to a conversion unit to train on twin -
engine aircraft. There he spent just over 8 hours on Avro Ansons before being posted to
No. 18 Squadron at West Raynham. Following the outbreak of war the squadron, flying
the Blenheim light bomber, had been sent to France as part of the British Expeditionary
Force but they suffered heavy losses and were withdrawn to England on the 19th. May
1940. Barry’s training on the Blenheim totaled just over 3 hours before he was sent to
Hastings for officer training and was granted a short service commission as anActing
Pilot Officer. On return to West Raynham he was assigned his crew, RAF Sergeants
Gilmore and Fiske and spent just over 4 hours training with them before being put on
When Barry’s turn on operations came he took off in Blenheim R3662, the
daylight target being a German airfield being built outside Paris. The route to it was
through Holland and Belgium, approaching Paris from the north. With a bomb load of one 500lb. and two 250lb. bombs
Barry’s orders were to identify the target, drop the bombs on it and head for home. On his first run he only dropped the
500lb. bomb and then made a second run to drop the remaining 250lb. bombs. This time the airfield defenses were alerted
and he was hit by flak at 2000ft. A shell exploded in the aircraft cutting the
elevator cables, flipping it over and into a steep dive. Barry fought to
stabilize the aircraft and using the trim controls managed to level it and head
for home. The compass was faulty and it was difficult for them to identify
where they were as they flew over the North Sea but then, in the distance,
they spotted a coastline with white cliffs. The crew gave a sigh of relief and
Barry decided to try and land on the beach as the aircraft was becoming
difficult to control. He lowered his undercarriage to identify himself to the
anti-aircraft batteries on the beach, as this was standard practice at the time.
He successfully landed the aircraft but what happened next caused
shock and confusion for them all. As they exited the aircraft a large squad of
German soldiers surrounded them. The White Cliffs were those in France
near Calais. Everything had happened so fast that the crew was unable to
destroy the Blenheim and it was seized intact.A German officer decided to
inspect the inside of the aircraft and climbed into the pilot’s seat. He pressed
the firing button of the front machine gun and a hail of bullets shot out. With
the stress of the emergency landing Barry had forgotten to switch the gun to
Barry and his crew were taken to St. Omer where they spent the night in a barn. The next morning they were flown
to Frankfurt for interrogation. At this point he was separated from Sergeant’s Gilmore and Fiske and never saw them again
or found out what had happened to them. He was at the interrogation camp for two weeks before being sent to Stalag Luft
Barry during flying training.
Barry (right) with Lord Shuttleworth (centre)
during training. See Note 1.
1, at Barth near the Baltic coast. Here the Senior British Officer decided that exercise was vital to the POW’s mental and
physical health and organized rugby and football teams for the prisoners but Canadians, such as Barry, were more interested
in baseball and hockey. The problem with these games, however, was the lack of equipment but this did not deter Barry and
he cultivated friendships with the German guards and officers. Through these contacts and the Red Cross he obtained a
considerable amount of equipment and became known on the camp as the “skate” man. This was the beginning of his
successful POW career as the “Scrounger” of escape materials.
One of the German Officers Barry
became friendly with was Oberleutnant Pieber.
He was interested in photography and took
photographs around the camp, many of which
became part of Barry’s wartime collection. Pieber
also assisted in getting letters to the outside
requesting sports equipment but most was
improvised from material on the camp. Hockey
sticks were fashioned from strips of wood taken
from the walls of the huts, goalie pads were a
blanket tied around the legs and skates were
figure skates with the picks filed off.
There were a number of attempted
escapes from the camp at Barth and some 47
tunnels were dug but unfortunately the Germans
discovered most of them. Barry’s main escape
activities were to cultivate the Germans and
collect information such as maps and railway
timetables. He once tried to escape through the
wire himself during an air raid, which ended
before he could get out.
On the 10th of April 1942 the whole camp at Barth was moved to Stalag Luft III at Sagan in Poland. It was a large
camp and by 1943 there were some 10,000 allied prisoners held there. The camp consisted of west, east and north
compounds and in addition theAmerican prisoners had their own compound. The senior British officers motivated the
prisoners and there was an active escape organization. Squadron Leader Bushell, who had been shot down over Dunkirk in
1940, was the main organizer and was known as “Big X”. The tunnel expert was Wally Floody, a Canadian Air Force Pilot
Painting by John Rutherford depicting the capture of Barry and his crew on a beach near Calais, France
A Canadian Hockey Match at Stalag III during the winter of 1944
and ex mining engineer. Charles Bronson played his part in the film as the “Tunnel King”. Many activities were organized at
Sagan to keep the men occupied and fit enough to endure the harsh prison life and Barry was once again involved in
organizing the hockey.A theatre group was also set up and the POW’s were kept busy making the sets, costumes, lighting
and sound equipment.Anumber of plays were presented including Macbeth, Julius Caesar andAMidsummer’s Night’s
Dream. The German guards were invited to the shows and from their front row seats enjoyed the activities. An orchestra
was formed with instruments donated by the German Officers and Red Cross and all of these activities kept the German
attention away from the escape planning. Barry was housed in the East Compound during the first year at Sagan and took
part in some of the escape activities. He worked on one of the tunnels but no successful escapes took place during this time.
Barry’s expertise in cultivating contacts with the German guards continued and he struck up a friendship with an
Obergefrieter Fisher who was an interpreter at the camp. From him he obtained printers ink, a radio and copies of passports
and German uniform insignia all of which were essential tools for escaping.
The POW’s were then moved from the East Camp to the North Camp. They were searched before the move but
with the help of Obergefrieter Fisher they managed to take all the escape equipment with them. Squadron Leader Bushell
(Big X) decided it was time to make a serious attempt for a mass escape. Three tunnels were started with the code names
of Tom, Dick and Harry and work on all three progressed rapidly. Barry’s part in the escape was to maintain contact with
Fisher and his roommate named Schultz both of whom were very anti-Nazi and provided lots of help.
The Germans discovered one of the
tunnels (Tom) so ‘Big X’decided to put all their
efforts into “Harry” and this progressed rapidly. It
had been planned for 200 to make the escape and
Barry was number 76. However, after he had
been seen talking to Fisher ‘Big X’ asked him to
step down in order to maintain contact with him,
as it was important to obtain news of the success
of the escape. James Garner who took his part as
the “Scrounger” did make the escape and was
killed.As depicted graphically in the film 50 of the
escapees were shot on the orders of Hitler
including Squadron Leader Bushell and Canadian,
Hank Birkland who was Barry’s roommate.
Twelve of the escapees were returned to the camp
and only three eventually reached freedom.After
the escape the POW’s erected a permanent
memorial to whose had been shot with the names
inscribed on three stone scrolls on the monument.
At the end of January 1945, with the
Russians just 30 kilometers away, the entire camp
was evacuated except those too sick to travel. The men were marched, in -30 deg temperatures for five days before
reaching Spremburg where they were put into cattle trucks and transported by train to Tarmstadt, which took another three
days. It was a terrible journey with little food and virtually no exercise and at the end of it eight of the prisoners had
perished. There then followed another ten-day forced march before they reached Lübeck, their final destination. Here they
were billeted in cattle barns until the 2nd May 1945 when a Scottish Tank Regiment liberated them. It was the end of their
ordeal. Arrangements were made for them to be taken to various airports and flown to England where they were processed
and given medicals before being sent home.
Barry’s life after the war was nearly as interesting as his POW exploits. He returned to Calgary and worked in the
Banff Canmore area of Alberta where, for some years, he created relationships with many of the local business and political
leaders. He also ran the Canmore Guest Ranch for many years and took tourists on pack trips and tours around the area.
There are several pictures of the famous people he met during this period including one of him with Marilyn Monroe while
she was filming a movie in the area. He then created a successful insurance business, which he managed until his retirement
Barry kept in touch with his fellow POW’s and was involved in several reunions both at home and in England. He
was the founding member of the Calgary Prisoner of WarAssociation and also an active member of the South Alberta
Aircrew Association. He died in 1996 at the age of 82.
Memorial to the 50 Allied Officers who were
killed after escaping from Stalag Luft III
This was not the end of the story. On the 12th
of August 2000 the Bomber Command Museum of
Canada dedicated a restored Blenheim Bomber to the
memory of Barry Davidson and all those Canadians
who had been Prisoners of War. In addition a painting
by the renowned aviation artist John Rutherford
depicting the capture of Barry and his crew on the
beach near Calais was unveiled. The special guests at
the ceremony were Barry Davidson Jr. and his sisters
Liz Harder and Bryanne Wood and their families.
During his time as a Prisoner of War Barry
kept a logbook containing sketches, watercolour
paintings, photographs and poetry by him and others. It
also included a painting of the monument erected to the
memory of the “fifty” killed following the Great
Escape. The names of Barry’s friends who died were
carefully written on another page. One of the most
poignant poems included the following lines:-
I hope that I will never know
So many days that pass so slow;
So many weeks so much the same;
So many months without a name.
I hope my cup will overflow,
With all the joys I used to know;
With wine and women to be kissed,
To make up for all the things I missed.
It has been an honour to record in the annals of the Clan
Davidson Association the story of a truly great member of our
Note 1: Richard, Lord Shuttleworth, was killed during the
Battle of Britain when his Hawker Hurricane went missing during a
battle over a convoy near the Isle of Wight.
My thanks to Barry Davidson Jn. for providing much of the
information about his late father used in this article.
The Bomber Command Museum of Canada for permission
to use the John Rutherford picture.
The “Flypast” magazine for providing some additional detail
about Barry Davidson’s time as a POW.
Barry (lower bunk) at a POW reunion
Barry in Retirement
Here’s another great Davidson story from Bob Davidson about a Clanswoman’s activities in WW II.
Muriel Davison was a member of the Women’s Royal Naval Service (WREN) stationed at a top secret code
breaking establishment during WW II. Bletchley Park is an estate located in the town of Bletchley, in Buckinghamshire,
England, which currently houses the National Codes Centre and the National Museum of Computing for the Government
of UK. During the Second World War, Bletchley Park was the site of the United Kingdom’s main decryption
establishment, the Government Code and Cypher School (GC&CS), where ciphers and codes of several Axis countries
were decrypted, most importantly the ciphers generated by the German Enigma and Lorenz machines. It also housed
Station X, a secret radio intercept station, and also a message sending station.
Although interception was soon moved to a location with better reception. “Station X”, “London Signals
Intelligence Centre” and “Government Communications Headquarters” were all cover names that were used during the
war, and the latter (GCHQ) was adopted for the successor peacetime organization that still bears this name.
A Wren’s Tale – The Secret Link to Bletchley Park by Robert Davidson, Hertfordshire
Muriel Davison née Howell was 17 years old and working at
the Colonial Office in Downing Street during the Blitz in 1940. During
her walks to and from the office she saw lots of men and women in
uniform and this prompted her to apply to join the WRENs – she liked
their smart navy-blue outfit. Muriel enlisted in 1942 and after training
spent the rest of the war as a radio mechanic at the Scarborough
Listening Station. Many years later during a visit to Bletchley Park (the
secret wartime code breaking establishment) she was encouraged to
record her wartime experiences and in 2011 this was published as “A
WREN’s Tale”. This is her story based on a review of her book.
MurielAlice Davison was born in 1922 at Surbiton to Ernest
and Elsie Howell nee Purvis and was the eldest of their two daughters.
She left school in 1939 and started working at the Colonial Office in
Downing Street before joining the WREN’s in 1942. As she had
matriculated from school in mathematics and physics she was put
forward for training as a radio mechanic.After initial training, which
included hours of scrubbing and polishing floors she and 20 other new
WREN’s were sent to Crosby Hall in Cheyne Walk, Chelsea for
technical training. This included studying for a City & Guilds Wireless qualification, normally a 2 year course but in wartime
condensed to an intensive 7 months. It was hard work with long hours of study but at the end of it Muriel was promoted to
a Leading WREN.
In December 1943 Muriel was posted to
the Scarborough Wireless Station on theYorkshire
moors. This was one of the “listening” or “Y”
stations as they were called where German radio
messages were intercepted and recorded and the
information sent on to Bletchley Park. Muriel was
one of six WREN radio mechanics in the wireless
workshop together with some older and more
knowledgeable ex-wireless sailors. The work
involved repairing and servicing the wireless
receivers sent from the “receiving room” which
was manned by wireless telegraphists. These were
WRENS or sailors who listened in on the German
Naval Morse code messages to and from U-boats
and other craft at sea. The messages were, of
course, encrypted using Enigma machines. These
messages were recorded and then rushed to
Bletchley Park by telephone or motorcycle dispatch
riders for decoding. It is thought that Bletchley
Muriel Davison in 1943
Muriel with her work friends and Ted their Driver at the
Wireless Station in Scarborough in 1944. Muriel is on the
Park was chosen as the government Decoding Centre in 1938/39 as it was ideally placed
to connect to the telephone cables passing down the all the main railway routes in the
There were more than 100 staff working in the “receiving room” and through one
of her telegraphist friends she learned how stressful it was at times taking down the Morse
code messages, as correctness was vital for accurate decoding. Other snippets of
information she learned were that: Unlike some Japanese and Italian messages the German
ones were always as clear as a bell. This was given the code QSA-5 – meaning clear and
perfect. Often there were more than 5 U-boats or E-boats in each group and the German
Leader would give the order as to where and when they would attack the British convoys.
These messages were picked up, decoded and thus saved many lives and helped shorten
In her book Maureen relates what life was like for the WRENS in Scarborough
during the war. This included late night suppers of cheese on toast in the wireless
workshop and visits to all the
local beauty spots on their days
off. Food was scarce and much
of it rationed but seemed to be more plentiful in Scarborough
than back home in Surrey. One Christmas she managed to get
two chickens from a local butcher and smuggled them home on
leave for the family Christmas dinner. She also records how they
used to queue at a local off-licence each evening for a tot of
Navy Rum and transfer it to a bottle to take home as a treat for
Muriel was de-mobbed in December 1945 and whilst on
demobilization leave met her future husband, Norman Davison,
who had just returned to England after serving several years with
the Royal Air Force in Burma. They settled down in Hook near
Surbiton and had three children, Mark, Susan and Nigel. Norman
spent more than 30 years as a sales representative for Rank
Hovis MacDougall before retiring in 1985. Sadly he died in 2010.
Norman Hamilton Davison was born
in 1920 at Meols on the Wirral in Cheshire.
However, the family originated from Northern
Ireland and Norman’s great-grandfather, James
Davison first came to Liverpool in about 1847
during the Irish potato famine. For many
generations the family had lived and farmed in
the townland of Killead, which is on the
eastern shore of Lough Neagh close to the
present day InternationalAirport.After being
given a family bible dating back to the 1800’s
and containing handwritten entries of births,
marriages and deaths Norman’s son Nigel
decided to research the family tree. He decided
that the project should not be just a list of
names and dates but in his own words “I
wanted to get to the heart of the Davison world
– to add flesh to the bones”. In 2001 he
published an extensive and fascinating account
of his family history going back to 1770
entitled “The Davisons of Killead”
Future husband, Norman Davison
Young WRENs keeping a “stiff upper lip” in the face
the war. Muriel is the upper-left young lady.
Muriel & Norman in retirement.
Muriel Davison has many fond memories of her
life during the war in Scarborough. The little book she
has written will be a permanent reminder about life during
those dark days in our country’s history for her family
and the Davisons of the future.
“AWREN’S TALE” by Muriel Davidson can be
obtained from Mark Davison, North Bank, Smoke Lane,
Reigate, Surrey RH2 7HJ Tel: 01737 221215
E-mail: email@example.com – also from
“The Davisons of Killead” can be obtained from
Davison Family Publications, 64 Osward, Forestdale,
Croydon, CR0 9HB Tel: 020 8768 3863 E-mail:
firstname.lastname@example.org;Also fromAmazon. com
Muriel Davison for permission to use extracts from her book in this article.
Mark Davison for providing the photographs for the article.
Nigel Davison for permission to use extracts from his book “The Davisons of Killead”
In the fall of 2007, the Evil One and I made the jaunt to Scotland to attend the Annual General Meeting of the
Clan Davidson Association (UK). The event was held in Dingwall at Tulloch Castle, ancestral castle to the Davidsons of
Tulloch, from whose line the current Chief of Clan Davidson, Alister Guthrie Davidson of Davidston, descends. During
this gathering, the group spent a lovely fall day strolling around the charming village of Cromarty, visiting many of the
places about which Nick writes in the following article.
Cromarty is located on the tip of the peninsula which separates the Firth
of Cromarty and the Moray Firth. This peninsula is called the “Black Isle” for
reasons lost to antiquity, but the color is thought to refer to the richness of the
soil of the area. It’s situated between Inverness to the east and Dingwall to the
west. The entire area is rich in the history of the Davidsons, and it is for this
reason the subject of interest to Nick Hide. Nick is the Hon. Membership
Secretary of CDA-UK and all-around good guy who toils endlessly in digging up
historical data about the Davidsons in Scotland and various & sundry other parts
of the world. Nick is also a direct lineal descendent of the Davidsons of Tulloch.
Cromarty & The Davidsons by Nick Hide, Clan DavidsonAssociation
(UK) [Photos by Sennachie]
Cromarty is on the east coast of northern Scotland.
Today the visiting tourist to this attractive coastal town, which is located in
a spectacular position at the eastern tip of the Black Isle peninsula, might be
forgiven for not realizing that there were many Davidson references to be found
there. This was one of the reasons we included Cromarty in the Davidsons in the
Highlands Trail which we published on the CDA website in 2007; see www.
We believe Cromarty is important because of its historical Davidson
The author of this article, Nick Hide,
chats with Typhoon Avon and his spouse,
Katrina, near the Cromarty lighthouse,
Cromarty has witnessed many of the
vicissitudes of Scottish history. This community has
experienced wars, economic boom and bust, religious
upheaval and disruption, emigration, agricultural
change, and the loss of its traditional fishing.
Behind this great historical screen of events,
there have been Davidsons in Cromarty who have
been recorded in many roles, and still are today. Best
known are the ancestors of the Davidsons of Tulloch,
the chiefly family. We have references to at least three
generations of Davidsons from this family from the
1680s through to 1760 when Henry Davidson, by now
a wealthy London merchant, bought Tulloch Castle,
located a few miles to the west, just outside Dingwall.
We have property/sasine records and some
parish family data for Donald Davidson, his children
and grandchildren dating from the 1680s. We know
they were small scale property holders, notaries, writers [lawyers], and sheriff clerks.
We know they held West Newton and Newton located approximately a mile to the west of Cromarty, and other
property in Cromarty itself not only from the property records but also from the estate maps drawn at the time. None of the
buildings held by these Davidsons exist today; the buildings one sees now have
been rebuilt or form the amalgamation of smaller buildings. Ian Davidson, CDA
historian, who also has ancestors from the Black Isle, did much field work in the
area, researching the locations long before this writer even joined the CDA.
The local archives now housed in the restored Cromarty Courthouse
building hold many Davidson references. See www.cromarty-courthouse.org.uk
The surviving parish records from the 17th/18th/19th centuries, which
have been painstakingly analyzed by CDA genealogist Flora Davidson, give us
many clues about the births, marriages and deaths of this Davidson family as well
as the Davidsons of Langlands and the Davidsons of Drumhall. These latter
Davidson families are now beginning to show prominently in several current CDA
research projects covering this part of Scotland. We are also following up a
number of 18th Century Davidson family links south across the Moray Firth to
Findhorn, Forres, and Nairn, and north to Dornoch in Sutherland. Gradually the
detailed family trees are emerging with links to all parts of the world together with
the discovery of portraits and journals from a wide range of sources.
Local historian DavidAlston has also done superb research work into the
East Church, its history and internal layout. His published work provides us with
many interesting references to status of the local Davidson families in Cromarty in
This historic church is now the subject of a major £1.3m [$2,084,000] restoration
project which the local community lead by DavidAlston has successfully got off the ground.
This project gained major prominence when it was involved in the BBC TV Restoration series
in 2006. The hard grind of the conservation building work will soon be complete. This is
testament to the sheer determination of this small community.
When this project has been fully completed, this church will provide an important focal
point for all who want to know about the church and parish history of Cromarty, and provide
new use for this architecturally important building.Although the writer has a personal interest in
this project as a descendant of the Davidson of Tulloch family, it should be emphasized that
this project is also important for Scottish architecture, church history and the wider history of
Cromarty and the other Davidson families.
Historic Cromarty, circa 1830
Interior of East Church
The surrounding graveyard was surveyed by David
Alston in the early 1990s and results are available on line. The
Davidson name is represented in these records.
The graveyard on the site of the St Regulus Chapel, just
to the south-east of the town holds several graves for the
Davidsons and other related families such as the MacKenzies,
Hossacks, and Forrester families. DavidAlston has provided this
writer with a copy of this private survey research work completed
30 years ago. We are still making important discoveries from
these notes. Fortuitously, the graveyard was well surveyed and
there are at least six Davidson graves with readable monumental
inscriptions to be found here. Two of the table graves mark the
burial ofAlexander Davidson [d.1734], and his three wives, the
grandfather of Henry Davidson, 1st Laird of Tulloch.
Although the 17th & 18th century Cromarty parish records are not
complete, we are fortunate in that the Davidson families from Cromarty also
appear in the family records of other more prominent local families such as the
MacKenzies. The British Library in London holds a Mackenzie manuscript which
has provided several useful dates for different members of the Davidson families
from Cromarty. This manuscript is a wonderful scrapbook of MacKenzie history
much of which is scribbled notes pasted over other documents.
The farm/hamlet of Davidston is located approximately two miles west of
Cromarty. Our current Chief,Alister Guthrie Davidson inherited the title “of
Davidston” from his cousin Duncan Hector Davidson.
Today there is still one Davidson family in Cromarty. Calum Davidson,
the son of Charles Davidson, one of the founders of the present day Clan
DavidsonAssociation, is a resident of this thriving community with his family. His
photography of Cromarty
is prominently featured on local websites
www.thecromartyarchive.org and www.calumdavidson.com.
This small town community is alive and well today with
the Davidson connections being well represented.
If any reader of this article can contribute more to our
ongoing research into the Davidsons of Cromarty (or even just
wants to know more), please contact the writer
(email@example.com). I am hoping that the descendants of some
the early Cromarty folk who found their way toAustralia or North
Americas will be able to add to the family history about this
extraordinary corner of Scotland.
Alston, David, My Little Town of Cromarty: [Birlinn, Edinburgh, 2006]
Alston, David, Ross and Cromarty:A Historical Guide: [Birlinn,
Ash, Marinell, This Noble Harbour, A History of Cromarty Firth,
[John Donald, Edinburgh 1991] Beaton, Elizabeth Beaton, Ross & Cromarty,An
IllustratedArchitectural Guide, [RIAS, Edinburgh, 1992]
Historical Committee of the Clan DavidsonAssociation, The Davidsons,
The Clan, its history, and its people: [The Clan Davidson Association, 2004]
Mowat, Ian R.M., Easter Ross, 1750-1850, The Double Frontier:
[John Donald, Edinburgh 1981]
View across the Firth of
Old Rope Works (on left), now converted to apartments.
Flowers grace the window of the pub.
Items of International InterestItems of International InterestItems of International InterestItems of International InterestItems of International Interest
In keeping with my passionately-held view that our wonderful Clan Davidson is, indeed, a Global entity, I will
continue to publish material I cheerfully reive from our sister organizations in Australia, New Zealand and UK.
News from the Clan DavidsonAssociation in the UK
The Clan DavidsonAssociation (UK) held a very
successfulAGM & social event at the EightAcres Hotel, Elgin,
Moray in Northern Scotland over the weekend 5-7th October
The AGM saw the passing of the Chairmanship from
Bob Davidson to Iain Davidson. However, Bob will continue his
other role as editor of our annual journal The Pheon. Members
heard detailed reports from the members of the CDA Council,
which was followed by an illustrated presentation given by Nick
Hide about the local Davidson connections, and a review of the
major projects and research findings from the last year.
The weather was kind and the guests came from across
Scotland, England and Northern Ireland. CDA Event Managers,
George & Sandra MacDiarmid once again organized an excellent
dinner with a top class local piper Ms Cauldwell, a pair of fine
dancers who put on a great display of Highland dancing, together
with a local band under Dan Ralph from Burghead. Both Dan Ralph and Ms Cauldwell have important Davidson ancestry.
In wi’ the new...
Oot wi’ the auld...
Merry & Jeff Smith, CDS-
USA RD R6;
Bob & Ann Davidson - CDA-
Jeff Schrager & Jeff Smith -
Fron left: Jeff and Merry Smith;
Piper; Dancer; Dancer; Evy &
Notable New Zealand Davidsons
John (Jock) Davidson -– From the newsletter of the Clan Davidson Society (NZ)
“Aman who had the distinction of being both chairman of theAshburton County
Council and later Mayor of Ashburton, Mr. John (Jock) Davidson died yesterday. He was 81.” -
Ashburton Guardian 2April, 1973.
This tribute marked the passing of a man who had given much of his life serving the
local community ofAshburton. Jock Davidson was a farming man. He was born at Hinds in
1893.At this time, his father, William Davidson, was head shepherd on the Coldstream Estate.
In 1902, the Davidson family moved onto a small 100 acre property at Lismore.
In 1905, after only a primary education, Jock left school at the age of 12 to become a
cook for four teamsters. He lived with these men in a small hut, just below the Maronan Hall,
earning 10 shillings a week. Later, still only a teenager, he worked on a threshing mill until he left
for the war in 1915.
He joined the New Zealand Expeditionary Forces, and was wounded at Gallipoli. This
resulted in him being invalided home, carrying shrapnel in his shoulder for the rest of his life. From then on, he maintained
an interest in the Returned ServicesAssociation, and many people will recall him speaking atANZAC day functions in his
later life. After the war, he returned to farming life, working around Mid Canterbury.
In 1921, at the age of 29, he married a Scottish emigrant by the name of Williamina Rayburn Chalmers. They had
seven children, but only six survived to adulthood. The Davidson family bought up a small property at Maronan on Barford
Road, and then on September 20, 1922, Jock was granted the Borough Council lease of St Helena, a 170 hectare property
at Maronan. On taking possession, Jock became the first person to farm St Helena as an integral unit. The only building on
the area was a small teamster hut, which also stored chaff for the horses. During the first few months, Jock lived in this hut
while Mrs. Davidson and their young son Matt lived back on Barford Road. The block was divided into only four paddocks
and the gorse fences were chaotic. The annual rent was 12/6 per acre and a house for the family was towed across the
Hinds River and erected on the present site of the St Helena homestead. During the first year on his property, Jock planted
50 acres in crop - wheat and oats, and rapidly proceeded to clear the gorse fences and subdivided the paddocks. Then in
1927, Jock bought an adjoining area of 147 acres, known as the Stone property and he followed this in 1937 by purchasing
a further 144 acres from Percy Ruck.
Jock was a recognized pioneer in new farming methods, and during the 1920 and 1930 period, in association with
his close neighbours, maintained a degree of farming efficiency that considerably helped them to combat the economic
conditions of the Depression. In 1931, he was one of the first farmers to begin heading wheat, and later bought his own
He served on the Maronan School committee and in 1936, he was part of
the committees that amalgamated Maronan School with Hinds School. During World
War II he was chairman of the “Hinds Sending Off’committee where he arranged
send offs for the local soldiers and nurses and also organized their ‘Return Home’
functions. He began serving on the County Council in November 1937 and was
county chairman from 1951-1954.
In 1958, after farming for 38 years, Jock and his wife moved to Tinwald. He
resigned from the County Council was immediately elected Mayor ofAshburton in
November 1959. He completed three terms as mayor and retired for health reasons
in November 1968. While mayor he was awarded the MBE. During his term of
office, Mr. Davidson was instrumental in having the borough sewage system extended to include Tinwald and saw the
introduction of the gravity water scheme. The introduction of fluoridation to the water in 1965, completed the scheme,
which was operational in 1966. In 1963, the council adopted plans for a Civic Centre and in 1965, the land was bought
from Mid Canterbury Transport for the library building. This was opened on September 15, 1967, but unfortunately,
because of ill health Mr. Davidson was unable to attend the opening of one of his favourite projects. This period of the mid-
sixties, under Mr. Davidson’s mayoralty saw many new buildings erected inAshburton, including the Post Office and the
new Ashburton College. In addition to his 21.years of local body services, he took an interest in many other local
“He spent his lifetime in Ashburton and was regarded as a man who was always interested in the welfare of his
district and its citizens.”
Reports From The RegionsReports From The RegionsReports From The RegionsReports From The RegionsReports From The Regions
Report From Region 6 by Jeff Smith, Regional Director
New Hampshire Highland Games, Lincoln, NH
Former Regional Director for Region 6 is Darwin Davidson. Darwin did a cracker jack job
for Clan Davidson in the Northeast prior to his retirement nearly a decade ago. His replacement,
Bill Davis, also did a bang-up job for the Clan, but tended to concentrate his efforts in New York
State and New Jersey. This left NHHC bereft of a Davidson tent, and membership waned in the area.
When I came across Jeff and he made his offer of manning a tent at the NHHG, I jumped for joy! So, here’s his
maiden Region Six Report. Send him an email [firstname.lastname@example.org] and welcome him aboard!
For the first time in recent memory, Clan Davidson was represented at the
New Hampshire Highland Games & Festival (NHHG) held at Loon Mountain New
Hampshire from Friday September 21 through Sunday September 23, 2013. It was
the 37th year for these games.
After attending the NHHG for several years and having searched fruitlessly
for the familiar Davidson tartans and a clan tent, my wife Merry and I bought a
10’x10’ tent, secured Clan Davidson starter kit supplies from Dave Chagnon and we
went for it… and it was a blast!
We set up Friday mid-morning with Merry
having just returned very early Friday morning
from a business trip to Florida. After a 2 hour drive
up to the games venue from Boston, we were welcomed by clan village organizers who
were holding the very last parking space available in the clan village for us!
Friends from Scots’ Charitable Society in Boston helped us set up our single table
and first-time lay out – but what we lacked in supplies we certainly made up for in
enthusiasm, well wishers and new Clan Davidson participants who visited and signed in
and shared connections and yarns over the three days of the games. We eventually filled
several pages of our notebook with Davidson’s looking for a clan connection and just
about sold out of all of our Davidson items that we brought up for the tent…
In case you didn’t know, NHHG is the “largest and most diverse Scottish cultural
festival in the Northeast.” It is “dedicated to the furtherance of the music, dance, athletics
and customs of the Scottish people and to the continuance of the Gaelic culture”. Loon
Mountain is truly a fantastic ‘highland – like’ venue, with the games located around the ski
lodge facilities and lower slopes of the 3000’ mountain in the middle of the 800,000 acre
White Mountain National Forest. While we were ‘manning the tent’ and stamping clan village passports for the ‘wee
bairns’, around us swarmed Highland Dancers, 30 Pipe Bands, Drumming, Fiddle, and Harp contests, Heavy Athletics,
Sheep Dog Trials, Whisky Tastings, Beer tents, dozens of clothing vendors and a lot of
While meeting new Clan Davidson friends this year we did not get the chance to
enjoy the chair lifts going up the mountain or the four-passenger gondola skyride, (which, as
we say around here, is ‘wicked cool’). While it may be a mite drafty in your kilt on the way
up and down, you can see some extraordinary mountain scenery and take a gander up the 35
mile two way road known as ‘The Kancamagus Scenic Highway ‘ or the ‘Kanc’ as it goes
through the forest and mountains.
Our Clan Davidson was one of 68 Clans in Clan Village this year. The Honored Clan
was Clan MacLaren Society of North America and Merry – (whose maiden name was
McLaren) and I met their Clan Chief, Donald MacLaren and his wife Maida. Merry knew
them from years past and they invited us to lunch at their home at Balquhidder Glen when
we were visiting Scotland the week following the games. (That was a fantastic connection
and I will share more about Balquhidder and our trip in a separate article).
Jeff Smith and John Dawson
Karen and Logan Field
Areal highlight of our weekend was meeting our very own Davidson piper,
Webelos Scout Logan Field age 10, (yes, that says 10) who came over from Portland,
Maine, in his kilt, with his mom Karen. Logan not only participated actively at the tent but
he played his pipes out front to everyone’s amazement. Karen and Logan then proudly
marched in the parade of Clans with Logan holding our tartan flag high. In doing so, we
lined up with Clan Chattan and sported a little Chattan
streamer from our flag. I made sure that we lined up
on the right of the MacIntoshs – not sure if the
MacPherson’s present got the message there - but we
Davidsons have a long memory… [Good on you,
All in all, a great time and my thanks to
Janelle and John Dawson for their support and
thoughts at the games and especially my wife Merry
for all of her work to pull our Davidson tent together.
We look forward to next year!!
Just as an interesting aside, the
MacLaren/Davidson connection between Merry
and Jeff Smith is not the only such pairing in
the mix of our Regional Directors. Doug Kirby,
our new Regional Co-Director for Region 11,
and his wife Chrissie share this same cross-
Clan pollination… he with Davidson and she
with MacLaren. Is this a new trend?
Report From Region 7by Debbie Davidson, Regional Director
Debbie is an infrequent reporter for The Sporran, but when she does send in a report, she
really sends in a report — a great story and fun to read! And not only did she send in a report, she
even included a bonus story from CDS-USA member David McDavitt, to be found at the end of her
report. My sincere thanks to both of them, and here’s hoping that Debbie’s reports are seen with great
Santa MacClaus is Coming to Town!
Another year has gone by and the Davidsons once more brave the
harsh elements of the Virginia winter to march in the 42ndAnnualAlexandria
Scottish Christmas Walk. The words brave and harsh might be a little bit of
an exaggeration, as it was between 45 and 60 with no wind to speak of; but
still, we were prepared for the worst! There have been years when the
temperature has been 2-4° below zero and there have been years when it has
been a balmy 90°! The trick in the Virginia wintertime is to layer, layer, layer
and when you’re done layering, layer some more!
Each year on the first Saturday of December everyone in the
Washington, Virginia and Maryland area dusts off their kilts and tartans and
prepares to march down or line up as spectators along the streets of Old
Town Alexandria, Virginia, a sister city of Dundee, Scotland. The event is
Logan, aged 10, plays
his wee pipes.
Jeff gets Logan fixed
up with a shinty stick.
Jeff with Russ CDS-USA Member Russ
Slora. Rudd is President of the St.
Andrews Society of Vermont.
sponsored in partnership with the Campagna Center and the Scottish
Government. The weekend starts with the heather and greens sale at
the Masonic temple on Friday night. After “herself” drags “himself”
[Note: In this case, the “herself” is Debbie and the “himself” is Jim
Hensley, long-suffering spouse of “herself”, and all-around good guy.
Jim was also the long serving WebMaster for CDS-USA. Sennachie] to
partake in nature and home decorating tips, the heartiest of souls breaks
from his bondage and ventures to a special room to get a wee dram of
whiskey or two (or three) at the Taste of Scotland. Himself may also
choose to taste some authentic food in between sips of nature’s nectar.
Saturday morning comes quick and everyone is anxiously
awaiting the start of the parade. Those who were over-served the night
before atAlexandria’s many pubs are perhaps a little less anxious then
some, but anxious none-the-less. The parade is scheduled to start
promptly at 11:00am (remember the word promptly…we’ll get to that
later). It is 9:00am and some of the local residents are already grumbling
under their breaths about those damn Scots and their damn parade
taking away their damn parking spots and the inability to maneuver
down the damn streets, because they have been blocked by the damn
police for over a damned hour. In preparation for the parade, however,
despite their initially bad attitudes, the majority get into the spirit and don
their tartans and other gay apparel, drag their lawn chairs out to the
curb, and await the start of the festivities while their Irish Coffees and
other liquid refreshments help get them into a Highland state of mind. If
you’ve ever been to the Washington DC area, you know that DC is a
blend of different nationalities, but on the first Saturday of December,
everyone is Scottish!
Jim and I start making the trek from the Hotel Monaco, carrying
our flags, banners, poles, cameras, crates full of candy, extra clothing
should a blizzard occur, and anything else we might need to make the day happy and joyous, to the corner of Wilkes and
Pitt Streets to participate in that age-old tradition of figuring out where the heck our clan is supposed to line up. Armed only
with a piece of paper indicating a general location within a general block and no marked spots, we carefully calculate the
number of clans slated for that block, multiplied by the general number of participants for each clan, based on past parades,
and using our limited math skills we stake out our territory. We put down our flags, banners, poles, cameras, crates full of
candy, extra clothing should a blizzard occur, and anything else we might need to make the day happy and joyous, settling
down in what we believe will be our special spot for the next couple of hours. Then, like clockwork, an extremely official
looking woman shows up to spoil our moment. By “official looking”, I mean she has a clipboard. Clipboard lady directs us
in a manner that would impress any drill sergeant, to move back about 100 feet. Obediently, we move back, dragging our
flags, banners, poles, cameras, crate full of candy, extra clothing should a blizzard occur, and anything we might need to
make the day happy and joyous, to our new special spot. About half an hour later, clipboard lady reappears, moving us
back once more. We are used to this, it is in our blood. The Scots
were moved so many times by the English, we invented the mobile
home. Finally, we dig in our heels, while quietly chanting “we shall
not be moved…again,” under our breaths, of course.
It is now 10:30am, a half an hour before the prompt
11:00am start time, and Jim and I are standing on the street alone,
except for a boat-load (yes a real BOAT) of girl scouts directly in
front of us, except for a small sprinkling of MacNaughtons, and a
gaggle of 20-30 eight year old junior rugby players behind us.
Nervously, we look at each other, the flags, banners, poles,
cameras, crate full of candy, extra clothing should a blizzard occur,
and anything we might need to make the day happy and joyous,
and then at each other once more. How are we going to carry all
that stuff by ourselves!? Unfortunately, each clan faces this
Christmas Walk 2011
“Himself” and “Herself” (showing off
her ribbon-bedecked walking”boot”)
contemplating their flags, banners, poles,
cameras, crate full of candy, extra clothing
should a blizzard occur, and anything else they
might need to make the day happy and joyous.
kabuki dance every year. You see, on Christmas Walk Saturday, the pubs open early
and many clans lose their members before the event even starts; however, a large
majority of them generally staggers in at the last moment, or somewhere along the
parade route and join their respective clans. No one ever knows if 1 or 100 people are
going to show up to represent clan until the parade is well underway or over.
We finally breathe a sigh of relief as we see Geoffrey and Michael Withnell
heading toward us. They are our rocks! As a retired (not former) Marine, we know
that Geoffrey will show up no matter what the weather. His word is his bond! Now
we are four. We start the juggling act of who is going to carry what and what has to
be taken back to the hotel and more importantly, why the hell did we bring all that
stuff! But wait, off in the distance, we can see what appears to be someone on an
electric knee scooter wearing Davidson tartan! It is Bob and Rebecca Dawson! Bob
is modeling a lovely surgical boot on his right leg and only because of his blood, sweat,
tears, and determination, has he decided to put aside his pain for this auspicious day.
Of course, the wee flask of single malt highland scotch on his person will help him
bear the hardships of the long road ahead. It is obvious to all, Bob will be unable to
carry the tartan flag this year, so we immediately rig up a mount for the flag on the
basket of his royal carriage. It’s amazing what ingenuity and duct tape will do!
It is now 10:45am, 15 minutes before the prompt 11:00am start time, when lo and behold, Jim spots our local
Davidson celebrity, David McDavitt and his lovely companion, Pamela, heading down Wilkes Street in our direction. It is
easy to spot David from blocks away. With his face painted blue, David is donning an authentic ancient Celtic outfit and
carrying his Carnyx, a replica of an old Celtic war trumpet (you can read all about David and his Carnyx at the end of this
article). David’s brother Ryan and his wifeAmy were staples in the parade until they moved to North Carolina a couple of
years ago. David first made his debut in the parade last year and was an immediate crowd pleaser! I am a tad bit
disappointed that he wasn’t wearing his horned hat from last year that earned David the nickname “Tim the Enchanter” , a
name that should be familiar to any Monty Python fan worth his salt; however, the disappointment soon vanishes with the
first mighty blow of his Carnyx! We now have a quorum…let the games, I mean the parade, begin!
It is promptly 11:00am and the parade still has not started. Is it the guest of honor, Senator Warner delaying the
start? Is it the various congressmen and other local delegates delaying the start? Is itAlexandria’s mayor delaying the start?
Is it the honored guests from Dundee, Scotland delaying the start? Is it the musket regiment or Westie Society delaying the
start? Is it the clansmen and women who dare to hold up the proceedings?
No – wait for it – this will be a shocker – it is the PIPEBANDS! It is my
firm belief that the physical act of blowing all that hot air into all those small
bags makes pipers light-headed, killing off those important “be on time”
cells of their brains. So, the parade starts promptly at 11:20! Being number
102 in the lineup, it takes a while for Clan Davidson to finally get started,
but soon we move…a whole block! I’m sure the pipers had to stop and
We finally turn a corner to get our first glimpse of the wall-to-wall
spectators along the parade route. Children, young and old are lined up 3
to 4 deep, shouting each clan’s name as they appear before them. The
children shout the loudest, because they know they will be the recipients of
what has become a parade tradition, the throwing of the candy. The clans
have brought hundreds of pounds of candy to throw at the children as they
march by them. Did you ever wonder what happens to all that Halloween
candy in the stores after October 31st? It all disappears off the shelves,
because us thrifty Scots get up at the crack of dawn on the 1st of
November to stand in line and await that precious 75% discount. And you
thought Black Friday was hectic!
As a retired Marine, we thought it only fitting that Geoffrey head
up the precession, carrying theAmerican flag we had specially made for the
event. Behind Geoffrey are Rebecca and Michele, carrying the Davidson
parade banner. Directly behind them, carrying a smaller banner, is my
husband Jim, who we affectionately refer to as “Mrs. Davidson”, wearing
David & Pamela McDavitt &
the his trusty carnyx.
David plays his Carnyx. Blowing up the bag on a
set of pipes doesn’t hold a candle to the lung
power it takes to blow the carnyx...
not his usual Clan Anderson kilt, but a DAVIDSON kilt! Yes, it took over 10 years of marriage , but I finally turned him.
The Davidson kilt was donated by Andrew Davis, whose father Bill passed away a few years ago. Bill always wanted to
join us in the parade, but his health prevented him from doing so. When he died, Andrew donated his father’s kilt to Clan
Davidson. Jim had the kilt altered to fit him and now wears it every year in Bill’s honor. It is our way of letting Bill finally
get his wish and march in the parade alongside his beloved clansmen.
I am marching in between my husband and David, “hornboy” McDavitt. David continuously delights the crowds
with each blow of his Carnyx. The shouts of “blow it again”, “blow it again” echo from the audience. Even the local police
get into the act and are shouting. Hundreds of video cameras and cell phone cameras are recording the moment. Data
streams of David and his musical abilities are going viral on U-TUBE as he is exhausting what is left of the air in his lungs.
[Check out what David and his wee Carnyx sound like at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WBO6WdGBm-E. Sennachie] Pamela
is also reaching the point of exhaustion , as she has decided to run up and down the parade route, handing the candy to the
children versus taking the easy route and throwing it. She is a far, far better woman than I am (and of course, much
Somewhere about one third of the way into the parade route, a nice couple decked out in Davidson tartan asks to
join us. I learn that they are from Tucson, Arizona, visiting a friend in Alexandria. The friend told them about the parade,
so they brought their kilt, et al, on the trip with them. I have a lovely chat with them along the route and although they plan
to march for only a block or two and then rejoin their friends, they stay with us to the bitter end. We chat as I hobble
along. Oh yes, did I forget to mention, I too have a surgical boot on my left foot from a recent foot surgery. Not wanting
to spoil the holiday mood, I taped a big red Christmas bow to it to make it more festive. My foot and bow soon become a
topic of excited conversation among a group of Japanese tourist watching the parade. They stop photographing hornboy
when one of them notices what I am wearing. As they storm me in what seems like a full-out paparazzi attack, they
frantically zoom in for close-ups of my foot. I have no idea what they are planning to do with all those pictures. I can only
imagine several enlarged photographs of my foot, professionally mounted in ornate silver and gold frames, hanging over the
mantle place of Mr. and Mrs. Suzuki into their home in Osaka, Japan. I’m sure it will be displayed next to their “ I was
there” photographs of Mr. and Mrs. Suzuki in front of the Washington Monument; Mr. and Mrs. Suzuki in front of the
White House; Mr. and Mrs. Suzuki in Applebee’s… you get the picture (every pun intended).
The parade is drawing toward an end and another Davidson joins our ranks as predicted, somewhere near the end.
She is a lovely lady, but wearing a Clan Montgomery tartan (what’s up with that?!). Finally, we are passing the official
reviewing stand at Market Square and march two more blocks to the parade end at the corner of King and Pitt. Now we
From left: Robert Dawson on his mighty mount; Rebecca Dawson, Geoffrey Withnell,
Michele Withnell; and “himself”, Mrs. Davidson
can finally become the watchers instead of the watched. Although we
missed most of the parade, we are in time to see the main event…the
man himself…Santa. First, however, we have to watch the Washington
Nationals Baseball official band wagon go by (go Nats! Sorry, got to get
a plug in for my precious Nats whenever possible!). We chat with our
fellow clansmen, while crowds are gathering around hornboy for one
more display of his musical talents. Finally, the big man himself arrives.
In past years, Santa has arrived in a fire engine; however, this year he is
riding in a fire-engine red convertible with leather interior. He is
wearing a beautiful antique Santa outfit, complete with cape and
bagpipes! What a spectacular site! Santa is certainly the classiest Scot
in the parade. .
After the parade, the mad rush for the pubs and restaurants
begins. It’s kind of like the running of the bulls, but far more dangerous.
Never get between a Scotsman and his pub! For those who don’t want
to wait an hour or so for a table or feel the parade’s short route has
exhausted them to point of drowning in drink, they head for Market Square where the bands are giving a special concert.
During the afternoon, the women folk comb through the quaintAlexandria shops and Christmas Bazaars while their men
folk continue their dedicated research at the pubs. If shopping or drinking is not your forte, then Alexandria offers the
Holiday Tour of Homes for wealthy tourists who want to see the inside of the many historic homes, decorated with
authentic period decorations…for a price, of course. I do not partake, as I subscribe to the opinion that I can see old stuff
at an antique store free.
The sun has set and the crowds move down to the Alexandria waterfront to watch the parade of boats. Some
choose to find a spot along the Marina, while others choose to watch from the warmth of a bar stool at The Chart House.
The owners of the boats decorate their vessels with elaborate Christmas lights and holiday decorations and sail them
proudly up and down the harbor. We have now gone from watching inebriated Scotsman attempting to march in a straight
line to watching inebriated Captains, attempting to steer their vessels in an orderly fashion as they display their imaginative
efforts to the crowd. Even the boats that remain at the Marina are decked out for the season. Some choose not to join
their fellow sailors and stay in the safety of the dock areas; however, from personal observations, I surmise they are far too
drunk to find their boat keys and their decision to stay put is probably a wise one. A fun time is had by all…some more
than others. After the parade, the bars and pubs fill up quickly for the remainder of the night. The old folks, such as Jim
and myself, decide to forego any more excitement and retire to our hotels, where the highlight of the rest of our evening is
deciding what to watch on “pay-per-view.”
The Christmas Walk marks the end of the Celtic season for Jim and I. We’ll put away our tartan, our kilts, our
banners and our tired feet and retire for a long-winters nap, only to awaken in January to attend The Celtic Evening at
George Mason University. Out will come our tartan clothing, only to find they have shrunk significantly over the Christmas
holiday. We don’t quite know how that happens, but it happens every year. With our unique ability to hold our breaths for
long periods of time, coupled by the advent of latex, the attire will somehow fit once more and we will enjoy the concert
with our dear friends Robert and Rebecca Dawson. Promises that our clothing will not shrink anymore between now and
the first highland game inApril will be made. Promises made with good intent, but often broken!
I know I have poked a little fun at the Christmas Walk; however, it is a wonderful weekend and Jim and I look
forward to it every year. I would like to send an informal invitation to all Clan Davidson members to make the pilgrimage
to Alexandria on the first Saturday of December and join us. We will welcome you with open arms and hearts! Perhaps we
can make this a more formal event in the future and get everyone to come (or as you say in the south, ya’ll come up). This
will give everyone something to think about between now and the nextAGM.
If you want to find out more information about the weekend or see photos of the parade from past years, you can
visit the Campagna Center’s website at www.ScottishChristmasWalk.com.
After the parade, I asked David McDavitt to send me a little write up on his Carnyx, so I could include it in this
article. David, being the dedicated clan member he is, had the write up in my inbox before I even made it home from Old
Town. The following is the information David sent me. It is a very interesting piece of history and I recommend everyone
take the time to read it.
The Carnyx: War Trumpet of the Celts by David McDavitt
The Carnyx is an effigy trumpet used by the ancient Celts from 300 BC- 300
AD all over Europe, including Scotland’s Picts & Caledonians. The root of the word
Carnyx is the (Gallic/Brytonic) Celtic “karn-”, or horn (like the antlered god
Cernunnos). The bell of the Carnyx often depicts a wild boar or serpent. Constructed
of bronze & occasionally brass, the Carnyx rose 5-6 feet over the player, carrying the
sound over the battlefield, signaling movements and intimidating enemies. Carnyx can
make sounds ranging from trumpet and trombone, to didgeridoo and an assortment of
To conquering Romans, the Carnyx was the ultimate symbol of Celticness, so
they became a popular war trophy, and are depicted on coins and monumental art
celebrating Roman victories. Diodorus Siculus around 60-30 BCE said (Histories,
5.30): “Their trumpets again are of a peculiar barbarian kind; they blow into them
and produce a harsh sound which suits the tumult of war.” Carnyx were employed in
battles including Mons Graupius (Scotland), Boudicca’s rebellion (Camulodunum,
Londinium, Watling Street- Briton), Siege ofAlesia (France), Bibracte (France),
Gergovia (France), and the attack on Delphi (Greece) in 279 BC.
Personally, Carnyx have been my madness since 2002 when I saw the
Deskford Carnyx in the Museum of Scotland & mused about owning one.As a Scot,
Carnyx seemed a more nationalistic instrument than a Middle Eastern bagpipe and quite
wicked in appearance.After considerable research on French search engines, I found a burgeoning Carnyx market among
Celtic Festival reenactors overseas mostly in Germany & France. Celtic festivals in Europe depict 100AD and thus Carnyx
(unlike the USA’s myopic focus on the 18th century & highlanders & small kilt). In 2006, I finally found a maker of decent
Carnyx replicas in Munich, Germany and commissioned a replica of the Scottish Deskford Carnyx. I play for Celtic
parades, festivals, and reenactments of battles and ceremonies for winter solstice, Samhain, & Beltane.
Questions/comments? Email David : email@example.com
Report From Region 8 by Elaine Davidson and Pat Davis, Co-Directors
The good folks
from Region 8 have decided
that a picture is worth a
thousand words, sooo…
Pat Davis & Ken Davidson guard
the Clan’s Tent at Grandfather Mountain HG
A trio of burgeoning beauties
are followed by
Pat Davis & Rich Halliley.
Peg Davis & Elaine Davidson lead
Davidson contingent at the
Report From Region 11 by Doug Kirby, Co-Director
Murray Highland Games Oct 27, 2012
The morning of this one day event started out cold and windy and did not improve
much throughout the day, however all who attended had a great time. The heavy athletes
fought hard and the Murphy Highlands Dancers danced their hearts out.
Nine clans were present at the Games and Clan Donald was the honored clan. Chris
[Doug’s spouse. Sennachie] and I convened both the Davidson and the MacLaren tents together and we had several
visitors at both tents.
Chris and I would like to thank the organizers of the Games and we look forward to attending again next year.
Report From Region 13 by David & Patty Davisson, Regional Directors
Like the folks in Region 8, David and Patty are letting their camera talk for them. Herewith is a snappy photo of
Patty and David dressed up in some of their RenFaire finery!
Report From Region 16 by Matt and Stacey Dawson, Co-
Aztec Highland Games and Celtic
Well, this epistle comes to you at the end
of the SecondAnnual Highland Games and
Celtic Festival inAztec, New Mexico, which
took place the weekend of 6 and 7 October. As
you will likely recall, last year’s Games, while
truly well done and surprisingly well-attended, were tiny, as many are
that emerge brand new onto the scene. However, with a second year
came a tangible doubling in size of everything: number of spectators,
clans, bands, vendors, and so on. Great to behold, because this Games
is one we’d like to see continue to grow and flourish. It has the feel most
of us look for in any event – festive, friendly, and enthusiastic, not to
mention professional and classy all-around. Moreover, the entire
community gets behind the Games (and this is not an exaggeration:
almost every business was a sponsor and/or gave special rates or
discounts, and the community at large was involved with some aspect of
advertisement, set-up, and so on. Heck, the Mayor was on the field both
days, all day, and was one of the ones leading the charge!), and you can
feel the excitement in the air.
This is even more amazing when one considers that the majority
of residents in New Mexico, let alone a little burgh likeAztec, wouldn’t
know a Highland Games if it came up and bit them on the…well, you get the idea. But, this is, in fact, the state in which I
have been asked “which clan the Martinez family falls into,” when the “capon” would be “hurdled,” and what “haggards”
taste like. This year, questions ranged from “what is a clan?” or “what is tartan?” to “My last name is MacEwan and my
mother’s last name was MacDonald, but those are Dutch, right?” (yes, this was asked very seriously and, to our surprise,
the asker was surprised to find out otherwise…) They are improving though, a little at a time, with exposure to our culture.
Yes, it’s a challenge here, but one that comes with the opportunity to teach folks about not only the Clan, but about
Highland and overall Scottish culture and history. There was also an added opportunity to reach kids this year: they
introduced the “Clan Passport.” As many of you are familiar, the “passport” is a booklet provided by the respective Games
Commissions’/organizers’ staff that contains blank pages or a series of short “fill-in-the-blank”-type questions, and room for
a clan stamp. The kids take the booklet to each of the clan tents, get the information and stamp, and get an opportunity to
Patty & David Davisson look pretty spiffy in their new
RenFaire togs. The outfits were made by these talented
take a look at the tent set-up, ask questions, or be hog-tied
against their wills and lectured about all things Clan…not
that we’d ever do that (again), of course.
Sometimes the completion of the passport enters
each kid into a drawing for something; sometimes the
passport itself is the “prize.”At any rate, it not only gives
kids something to do, it exposes them to each clan and each
clan’s particular history (or spin on history, anyway). Now,
not all kids see the learning “opportunity.” In fact, most are
competing with their siblings and/or friends to see who can
get done first, or rushing to get to “the prize.” But, it was
amazing how many of these kids asked questions, and how
receptive they were to the answers we gave.
Our greatest challenge this year was attempting not
to go the way of the “Toto;” that is to say, trying to remain
in “Kansas!” The first day, winds were consistent at about
30 mph, with sudden gusts of up to 50 mph! Day 2 we got
a break, with winds only in the 20s mph, and gusts only up
to 40 mph – all-in-all, a much better day! You discover how much you really love doing all of this when, in the midst of
trying to tack down tent walls, tying off guy lines, and using all of your strength to keep your tent from doing its best kite
impression, you can stick it out and still manage civility (OK, Stacey managed the most civility) towards visitors who want
to know more about the Campbells…
As to the festival itself, Massed Bands actually “massed” this year: there were 4 (and-a-half: the fifth band lent their
drum corps and a couple of pipers, because someone scheduled some of their individual competition times for the same
time as opening ceremonies), which, again, is doubled from last season. There were nine clans represented this year, many
from out of state, which surprised us. The Inter-regional Highland Athletics folks had a huge turnout. In fact, not only was a
record set for the 12 lb. sheaf toss (26 feet), that same athlete turned around and broke the record by besting 30 feet – with
room to spare! Quite a sensational performance, and one that will be the target of a great many next year as the
International HighlandAthletics MastersTournament comes to – of all places –Albuquerque!
Aside from the pipe bands and your occasional, wandering, drunk minstrel, there was some fantastic live
entertainment as well. Returning to the stage was the local group “Mad Haggis,” whose lead singer is none other than the
Aztec Games founder; “The Kitchen Jam Band,” who play an instrumental mixture of the Seven Celtic Nations (for any not
in “the know,” that’s Scottish, Irish, Welsh, Bretonic, Manx, Cornish, and Galician) music; “Giant’s Dance,” whose flautist
rivals Ian Anderson (a.k.a. “Jethro Tull”), and whose lead singer’s (Kevin Dawson – must be in the name) voice so
captivates an audience that they freeze in place to watch and listen; and, believe it or not, this small venue brought in “The
Tannahill Weavers!” For those who have not heard the latter, premier band, direct from Scotland, they are amazing, and
well worth a listen! The band formed in 1968, and has been touring the world with their acoustic, energetic and explosive
take on traditional tunes since. How this little venue pulled this off, we’re
not sure, but however they did it, we hope they can keep it up!
As far as Clan business, we have to report a “goose egg” for this
one: no new members signed, and nary a sale of book, shirt, or anything
else. Of course, it surprised us that we sold anything last year, so it didn’t
surprise us when there wasn’t any “fiscal traffic” this year. Now, if we had
been there representing the MacSanchez Clan, things would likely have been
different, but we did impart a good deal of Davidson history to passersby,
and we directed a surprisingly large number of visitors to the road to
discovering their Scottish ancestry.All-in-all, that payoff was perhaps even
more satisfactory than any sales we could have made.
Year Three at Aztec is already in the works, and we look forward to
the return trip. Between now and then, we’ll gear up for a better defense
against the wind, get the word out to more folks about next year – maybe
even to the point we have a small army of Davidsons in tow – and see what
more we can discover about those elusive and, obviously Dutch, clans, the
MacEwans and MacDonalds… Not looking much like the sterotypical image of
New Mexico, the massed bands strut their stuff.
Reminiscent of a desert vulture looking for lunch,
Matt Dawson and the Davidson Tent is open for business.
Report From Region 18 by Bob and Jan Davidson, Co-Directors
These two people, by far the most senior of all the CDS-USA Regional
Directors, are also, by far, THE most active of all. While Bob’s reports have always
challenged my ability to interpret his handwriting, they are religiously delivered year
after year. Bob also tends to have his own acquired short hand, but he always manages
to get his point across!
Thanks, Bob… Jan… you are a huge asset to our Clan!
Opening Day, April 14 Albany, Oregon
As always, ourAlbany Clansmen showed us the true Oregon Feeling of Scotland.
Indoor Games with all the spirit and love of our native Scotland. We enjoy ourselves listening to the pipe bands,
watching highland dancing, talking and bragging about Clan “D” and making plans with other clan “D” members for our
June 23, County Park, Graham, WA, Pierce County. Tacoma Highland Games
This one we will remember, Tacoma Games was our first adventure in the Scots world. Our good friends Mrs.
June Wilbur, son Bob Wilbur invited us to the Tacoma Games and we were started as Clan Davidson. Our friends June and
Bob are members of Clan Don-a-key.
These friends have been with us for over 35 years, good long Scottish years.
We had normal Washington weather, a “cold misty day”! But a true Scots activity. Scotland Forever.
Seattle Games July 30, and 31 Enumclaw, WA. King County Fairgrounds.
The “Big One” in the Pacific North. The King County Fairgrounds is an ideal location for this large activity.
Large covered areas, open spaces, north and south parking and camping locations.
A long list of activities including all normal Scottish traditions, a wonderful Saltire, bands, clans, dancing, athletic
legends “including that big peeler log called “The Kaber”.
Plenty of action for everyone, food, liquid refreshment, venders, clan tents, band music, dancing, 2 days filled with
everything any Scot would enjoy.
Clan D talked with many people about their own ideas, needs and wants.
Co-Director Marty Day and his family made this a fun games. This Clan D Family is a pleasure to be associated
Bellfair, Washington Games August 11, 2012
Second year for this location, plenty of time and area to get larger. There’s a rumor that they are moving to a new
We enjoyed ourselves and met several new clansmen from Clan D who live in Bellfair.
For a small activity, they have the people and leadership to expand. The Scots here have and like what they are
doing, looking forward to the next season.
So our advice from area 19 is go to the Bellfair Games next year for a good time and a
Kelso, Washington Highland Games Sept 7, 8, 9, 2012 Kelso City Highlander
Home games for our Section of “Clan D”, we helped restart Kelso with the help of
Kelso City, Kelso schools and many interested Scots, 35 years ago.
We started with 3 clans, including Clan Robertson (Clan Don-a-key). They not only
inspired our area Scots, but they also provided leadership and helped clansmen throughout our
Kelso has grown to more than 20 major clans today and we proudly proclaim ourselves as “Everyone’s” games, all
clans are welcome.
Heavy events, piping, dancing, women’s Events, venders and clan tents to mention a few. We have most of
everything and we look forward to growing.
We have several restaurants, hotels, motels and we have a camping area by the Highlander football stadium. We
hope to see you all!!! “Next Year”
Boise, ID Highland Games September 29, 2012
Annual trip to Boise, then on to Montana.
Travel to Boise gives us a chance to see some truly beautiful country. Boise is located in an area called “Treasure
The Boise Highland Games are a one day event with rumors that they will be expanded in the near future.
Everything is here that is needed, clans, bands, vendors, volunteers, a beautiful county park and the population to
support the games.
The weather cooperates most of the time and gives the games room for good attendance.
And we always enjoy the Boise Highlander Pipe Band wearing the “Clan D” tartan.
The “Squeezin” Winlock, WA October 7, 2012
Our very popular event in the fall of the year. Clans from Northwest Oregon to Tacoma, Washington get together
for a “Cider Squeezin”, potluck dinner and a good time was had by all.
Some of our people make home-made wine, some like hard cider, and many like fresh cider.
People bring apples, jugs, 2 stand-by cider presses and plenty of people power.
Hither, Thither & Yon
ANew Writer Joins the CDS-USA Stable of Authors
by the Sennachie
I’ve often said our Clan was blessed with genes that compel us towards excellence, regardless
of our areas of pursuit. Now comes yet another in a long line of Davidson Clansmen who wield a
mighty pen… Michael Davidson. CDS-USAmember Michael R. Davidson is a veteran of the CIA’s
legendary Clandestine Services with near 30 years of experience as a case officer and senior
intelligence officer at home and abroad. He began writing short stories at a very young age but was
diverted from this track, as he says by puberty, the vicissitudes of high school, college, and then
military service and several other careers.
Raised in the Mid-West, Michael heeded President Kennedy’s call for more youngAmericans
to learn Russian and studied the language in college and later at the Defense Language Institute in
Monterey, California. Military service took him to the White House where he served as translator for
the Moscow-Washington “Hotline.” His language abilities attracted the attention of the Central
IntelligenceAgency, and following military service Mr. Davidson worked as a Clandestine Services
officer until his retirement from the Agency in 1994. Seventeen of those years were spent abroad in a
variety of sensitive posts working against the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact.
He thereafter founded two consulting companies and co-founded an
industrial manufacturing company in Florida. He currently lives with his wife,
three dogs, and a cat in the Shenandoah Valley where he rediscovered his love of
writing. His articles and op-ed pieces have been published in theAmerican and
His debut novel, Harry’s Rules, appeared in print and Kindle editions in
earlyAugust of 2012. The plot weaves actual events with the life of his fictional
hero, CIA officer Harry Connolly. As one reviewer on Amazon wrote, “Harry’s
Rules manages to impart realism in the form of the author’s vast knowledge of
clandestine operations and of Russia, past and present, while keeping the reader on the edge
of his chair with non-stop action. His descriptions ofAustria and Spain particularly ring true,
and you just know the author has spent his share of nights in seedy hotels in the capitals of
Europe while on clandestine missions. Mr. Davidson’s explanations of the intimate connection
between the intelligence services, organized crime, and the looting of Russia’s national
treasury are fascinating. In short, this is one of the best spy novels I’ve read in recent memory
and renders insignificant the works of the bestselling authors of the genre that you can find on
the bookshelves today. This is a must read for aficionados of spy fiction.”
Recently Michael co-founded the Spymasters Literary Guild, a group of three former
intelligence officers from the Cold War era who now join forces to create a unique source of
espionage thrillers and documentary non-fiction. More information on the group’s activities
are available at www.spymastersguild.com.
Harry’s Rules, and now his latest novel, Incubus, are available atAmazon.com, and
autographed copies may be ordered via Michael’s own website, www.michaelrdavidson.com.
Thanks From The Sennachie
The Sennachie would like to thank all the contributors for their thoughtful submission of
material for this newsletter. The Sennachie offers heartfelt apologies for any heavy-handed editing
to which he may have subjected these submissions!
And once again an extra special thanks toALL the contributors who so thoughtfully
submitted their material to the butchery of the Sennachie. Without their efforts, you folks would
have to live with my efforts... and we all know how pitiful they can be! An extra special thanks to
all the Regional Directors who graced us with the Reports and photos; also, Debbie Mecca; Nick
Hide; Garth Davidson; Paisley Dawson and Bob Davidson.
For a current copy of the List of New Members, the Officer List, a current Membership
Roster or a ton of other information about the Clan Davidson Society (USA), go on-line to our website at http://
The Sporran is published semi-annually in January and July. Written material may be submitted to the Sennachie on
paper, CD, to my snail mail address (7004 Barberry Drive, North Little Rock AR 72118), or electronically via Internet e-
mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cut-off dates for submissions are May 15th and November 15th, more or less.
Clan Davidson Society (USA)
Sennachie & Membership Registrar
7004 Barberry Drive
North Little Rock AR 72118
Address Service Requested