Genealogy is something fun for retirement. It becomes addicting and having to leave it to go do anything else will just annoy you. If you have any interest in finding your family’s roots, stop right now and get on line with Ancestry.com. Watch the TV show “Who Do You Think You Are?” and get the bug. Be prepared to get really hooked!
We’ve traced our roots back to the Mayflower (no kidding) and but we also found that many of our subsequent ancestors came from Scotland. Here’s where it took us.
If you have any British ancestry, you probably also have an ancestor from Scotland. The Scots are spread all over the world and celebrate their ancestry by holding annual Highland Games in most major and some small cities. The tradition comes from a time when clans (families and friends) met up once a year to hold (sometimes) friendly competitions, trade cattle and sheep, look for a wife, or just visit.
If you search the web for your clan before you go to the games, look for upcoming events and find out when and where they will have a booth. If you don’t know if you have a clan, you can go to any of the clan booths and they are happy to help you by asking for some of your family names. There is a huge book with all the related names (called “septs”) for each clan. They can get you pointed in the right direction.
Clan hosts are all volunteers. They have extensive knowledge about their clans and are more than happy to share information. But while you are there, be sure to visit all the events! The highland games have competitions for dancing, tossing the caber (throwing a telephone pole end to end) and many other field sports. You may also see sheepdog trials where highly trained dogs herd sheep or ducks into a pen following the commands of the master’s whistles. There are booths with weaving, musicians and ancestry. And, of course, vendors selling all things Scottish.
At noonish, the clans will parade around the field to pronounce their attendance. Don’t be shy, just jump in behind the banner with your clan. They love having a big clan out there.
At the end of the day there is always a big party, pronounced a “cay-lee” with music and dancing. You can find us at the Clan MacKay and Clan Forsyth booths!
Our genealogy quest has sparked an interest in visiting the towns where our ancestors lived. Its pretty exciting to find your 7th great grandfather’s grave in Boston! It’s also exciting when you find someone else also tracking your same family tree – a long lost cousin perhaps?
Photo: Author’s collection