Moore County, North Carolina has one of the largest populations of Highland Scottish descendants in the U.S.A.  About 150,000 Scottish people emigrated to America between 1600 and 1776, and North Carolina had the largest number of Highland settlers in America.  Between 1739 and 1776 about 50,000 Highlanders came to the the Cape Fear River Valley for relief from economic and political repression.  Remnants of the Highland culture survive in local names, liberally sprinkled with Mc’s, the suffix which meant “son of” in Gaelic, in numerous Presbyterian churches, and place names like Caledonia, Cameron, and Aberdeen.

Last week, I was in Aberdeen, driving along Bethesda Road, also called N. C. Highway 5.  I was surprised to pass under a large archway with large letters reading “Bethesda Cemetery.”  Immediately in view was an old white wood frame church, Bethesda Presbyterian, with a large cemetery on either side of the road.  I then drove under a matching archway and was back in residential territory.  I had to go back for a closer look.  I immediately recognized the McDonald and Patterson names in the oldest part of the Cemetery, and I saw that many of them were born in Scotland in the 1700’s.  Back at home, I found many of their names in Highland Scots Pattersons of North Carolina, by Alex Patterson, a volume you can find in most libraries in the state.

Because of the frequent naming of offspring for their parents and grandparents, the many  Duncans, Malcolms, Anguses, Daniels, and Archibalds, as well as Marys, Margarets, Floras and Jennets have made the McDonalds and Pattersons two of my greatest challenges in searching out the family history.  Read the stones in the cemetery, and you will see.


David Dodson, The Original Scots Colonists of Early America: 1612-1783, (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1989;)  Douglas F. Kelly, Carolina Scots: An Historical and Genealogical Study of Over 100 Years of Emigration. (Dillon SC: 1739 Publications, 1998) pp. 79, 81, 209-211; Alex M. Patterson, Highland Scots Pattersons of North Carolina and Related Families. (Raleigh: Contemporary Lithographers, Inc., 1979;) Glenda Alexander, “John Finlayson McDonald & Jennet Isabella Patterson and the McDonald Family Cemetery, Crains Creek,” http://home.earthlink.net/~glendaalex/cemetery.htm.

Copyright 2018 by Glenda Alexander.  All Rights Reserved.

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