This is an old blog that I started in 2006. I keep it because it has a lot of historical data and people still come here. As of September 2016, no new updates will be made here. All new blog posts and writing/publishing related news will be posted over on my new site at

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Book Review - "Carolina Scots" by Douglas F. Kelly & Carolina Switzer Kelly

By Jennifer Hudson Taylor

This is a nonfiction work that is an historical and genealogical study of over 100 years of emigration. The book begins with a Preface that explains the the author's background, knowledge and education on Scottish history and his upbringing in the Carolinas. He states that this is not an exhaustive study of all Scottish settlers that came to the Carolinas and that it mostly concentrates on his family roots and those he knew who came to the Carolinas through the Cape Fear region.

There are several Scottish emigrants who settled in the Carolinas that came through Charleston, South Carolina and down the Great Wagon Road from Pennsylvania and a few through Virginia. Those families are not covered in this book.

The book is primarily broken down into two parts. The first consists of a brief history of Scotland that includes an outline of Scotland's geography with an illustrated map of the country. The author explains the difference between the highlands and the lowlands, the culture, and language of those regions. An explanation of the highland clan system is given, clan structure, poetry and music, housing and living conditions of the 1700's with photos and illustrations, social relationships, and schools and churches in community life.

The author then describes changes in farming practices, rent raising, and forced removals by estate holders and managers who widely contributed to the mass migration of Scots from their mother country. The Carolinas became a popular area for Scottish immigrants to target as they received many letters from family and friends describing the Carolina colony as a vast opportunity for commoners to start over and buy cheap land since there was so much of it, and be near other Scots who were already established in Carolina. It helped that North Carolina had a Scottish governor.

Photos of homes build be Carolina Scots are included, along with a brief exerpt on their lifestyle and the business market in the Carolinas. Most Scottish immigrants were Presbyterian and began churches that still exist today. They struggled to find enough educated and qualified ministers. The Argyll Colony petitioned the Presbytery of Inverary and Synod of Argyll for a presbyterian minister in 1739, 1741 and again in 1748.

The Gaelic language was widely spoken in the Sandhills of North Carolina and along the Upper Cape Fear region since the arrival of the Argyll Colony in 1739. As with many immigrant families today, most Scots were bilingual. They spoke Gaelic in the home and at church, but English at school and on the job. Fayettevill, NC had a Gaelic printing press in the early part of the 19th century and several of their publications are preserved in the Presbyterian Historical Foundation in Montreat, NC.

Part Two of this book covers the family history and genealogy of the 1739 Argyll Colony in North Carolina. Three hundred and fifty men, women and children arrived with the first ship of this colony. A list of 52 names are given that have been verified. Some of the surnames include, McNeill, Armstrong, Clark, McAlester, MacLaughlin, McPherson, Buie, McCranie, Campbell, McDuffie, Stewart, McGill, Smith, Smylie, Ward, Colvin, and Cameron.

Each family section has a brief introduction and then it lists the parents and their children, and the following subsequent generations. An exhausted list of sources is given for every chapter and section. This is an excellent book with historical documentation and detail, as well as a wonderful source of genealogical reference for the descendants of those families.
If you would like more information on this book, visit:


Jennifer, I posted a quick discussion of the differences between Blogger and Wordpress on my blog. You might find it interesting.

Hi Jennifer,

i like your blog, and thanks for passing by on my blog.

wish you all the best.

Sounds like a great book! My family is from western NC and I'm always interested in learning more about our heritage-and like most natives of NC our ancestory is Scot-Irish.

Jennifer, I appreciate the post. Sounds like I ought to stick with Blogger.

Kim, Thanks. I hope you have a chance to visit my blog again.

My Scots-Irish relatives are also from western NC, specifically Wilkes County. I hope to dig a little further back into my Gregory line before 1800.