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Tuesday, June 09, 2009


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Greetings and Salutations to All my Kith and Kin and All the Ships in Outer Space:

Here is an interesting report from today's issue of the DESERET NEWS, in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Thank you.
Official Bard of Clan Henderson
Washington, D.C. 20011-8400
NOTE: "My unpopular and controversial personal opinions are independent of my Scottish clan."


A Scottish tartan is woven with history, with a warp and weft of tradition, heritage and hardship that stretches back to the mists of time.

It is one of the most recognizable things associated with Scotland, a symbol of belonging, of patriotism, of pride.

To be a Scot is to be fiercely proud, notes the Utah Scottish Association. And a deep and abiding part of that pride is expressed in the clan association and the wearing of that clan's tartan, says Bob Gallimore, a member of the board of the association.

What many people don't realize, he says, is that Scottish clans are not just something out of history, "but a living, dynamic thing." Clan organizations still exist, not just in Scotland, but worldwide.

"The tartan," he says, "has evolved into a statement of one's Scottish roots, a way of identifying with the homeland though thousands of miles and generations distant. It's a living, breathing tradition. And clan histories are just as colorful as their tartans."

In honor of the 250th anniversary of national poet, Robert Burns, Scotland has declared 2009 to be a time for the "GATHERING OF THE CLANS," with activities taking place all year to encourage Scots to seek out their heritage and celebrate Scottish culture.

This year, the annual UTAH SCOTTISH FESTIVAL AND HIGHLAND GAMES will also have a huge focus on clans and families, encouraging everyone with a drop of Scottish blood to find out more about their heritage, says Dianne Siegfreid, vice president in charge of clan relations for the Utah Scottish Association, which sponsors the event.

Several events at the festival will highlight the clans that have chosen to participate in the festival. On Friday 12 June, as part of the Tattoo, there will be a torchlight parade of clan representatives. "They will be called in, following the old tradition," Siegfreid says.

On 13 June, around noon, there will be a call for the clans and a procession from the fair area to the ceremony grounds. As part of the closing ceremonies at 1730 Hours, there will be a special program where a dozen or so clan representatives will give a short presentation about their clan's history and involvement.

Throughout the festival, there will be clan booths, where the public may stop by to learn more about the clan, get help with family lineage and obtain other information about Scottish heritage. If you don't find a booth with your clan, you can also stop by the Utah Scottish Association booth to find out about other clans or how to get involved with the association, Siegfreid says.

"This year we are upping the ante on our emphasis on clans," she says. "They are the heart and soul that keep the Scottish spirit alive. One of the interesting things about Scottish history is that Scotland's greatest export has been its own people. Due to political strife, economic necessity or an adventurous spirit, large numbers left the country. There are far more Scots outside Scotland than inside. Major concentrations came to Canada, Australia and the U.S., but you find them everywhere. You see their fierce pride and joy in the societies they have created, in the festivals and games they hold. We will have clan representatives from all over the country at our festival."

Siegfreid's own clan is Campbell, which she connects to through her great-great-grandmother. Obvbiously, she says, "I don't have a Scottish surname, but that doesn't matter." There are no requirements to have a certain amount of Scottish blood in order to affiliate with a clan. "Most of us are hybrids. But the Scottish spirit is the one that calls out the loudest to us."

Several Utah Scots, in fact, are involved in national and international organizations of their clans.

Dale M. Forsyth Sandusky, for example, is national president of Clan Forsyth Society of the USA, and the chief's U.S. representative.

His clan's chief is presently living in southern France. "He had been staying in western Australia, tending his son's cattle ranch while his son was away at university. Chief Alistair now plans to return to Scotland and build a retirement home on the 200 acres he still holds."

As the chief's representative, Sandusky travels throughout the country, representing Clan Forsyth at various Scottish games and celebrations. He is allowed to wear two feathers in his hat (the chief has three). "The chief has had representatives in Australia and Canada. In 2002, he decided to appoint his first commissioner in the U.S., which was me. I 'stand in his shoes' in the U.S."

The Forsyth clan has three official tartans. Most common is the dress tartan, but you also will see ancient and weathered versions, he says.

The Forsyth clan is a bit unusual, Sandusky says, in that "we went 300 years without a chief. The clan system went by the wayside when Bonnie Prince Charlie lost the war in 1746. My clan was dissolved, and no one could find the chief. When the clan system was restored, our chief never showed up."

Not until the 1900s was the Clan Forsyth Society formed. "In 1978, Lord Lyon of Scotland looked into the genealogy of its members and decided that Alistair C.W. Forsyth has the purest line back, and we were recognized again as one of the old clans." The Lord Lyon King of Arms is the official registrar of Scottish clans.

There are some 500 members of the society in the United States, Sandusky says — "and there are about 27 different spellings of the name." Scots being frugal, he adds, "it only costs $25 to join."

Sandusky is connected on his mother's side. He takes great pride in the fact that his clan stretches back to the time of Charlemagne. "We have an impressive history." Among other accomplishments, one ancestor was a horticulturalist; the forsythia plant was named after him. In Utah, Forsyth Mountain in Pine Canyon was named for a clansman.

Leslie Dorius-Jones is a member of the Maxwell clan. She is also the seanchai, or storyteller, of the Utah Scottish Association.

Her mother and grandmother were also seanchais, she says. "As a girl, I remember going to reunions and gatherings."

But her own involvement didn't come until she ended up in Utah as a single-parent with a 5-year-old son. "I saw a notice for a kirkin' of the tartan, and I thought that would be a way to get my son involved in the culture."

Dorius-Jones became involved with the association and also with the House of Maxwell Society for America, for which she is the Intermountain Region representative, an involvement, she says, that "has been fun and also helped me find great joy."

The Maxwell clan is interesting, she adds, in that it split off into five distinct branches. "My branch is Jewish." At the same time, former LDS apostle Elder Neal A. Maxwell was a member of the clan. "Many of the early members were reapers, weavers and tax collectors, which made them highly unpopular at times. But they were also part of the Knights Templar, and we are connected to the physicist James Clark Maxwell."

The clan has not had a true chieftan, she says, "since the last one was killed in the 1800s," but there is a society organization.
It takes about 20 years to learn to be a seanchai, says Doius-Jones, "and I'm still learning." But when people come to the booth at the festival and want to know what clan they belong to, or learn about stories, history or food, she can tell them. A lot of clans have other families that have been adopted in or associated with the clan. For example, among the main "septs" or families of the Maxwells are Pollocks, Cardones, Monreith and Farnham.

But, says Dorius-Jones, there is nothing like knowing you belong to a clan. "It means you are proud of your heritage. It gives you a sense of belonging. It connects you with the universe."

She wears the Maxwell tartan with pride. Women don't wear kilts, she points out, "unless they are a member of a pipe band or sadly uninformed. But we wear the plaid over the shoulder, often pinned with a clan crest pin."

Lots of people, she says, "feel alone in the world, and I feel badly for them. As for me, I know who I am. As a former teacher, I used to tell my students that if you know where you came from, if you have values that have been passed down to you, then you know where you can go. Knowing that comes with obligations, but it is also freeing. That's what being a Maxwell means to me."

If you go . . .

What: 35th Annual Utah Scottish Festival and Highland Games

When: Friday 12 June 1700 Hours; Saturday 13 June 0900 Hours

Where: Thanksgiving Point, Lehi

How much: Friday, $7.00 adults, $5.00 children; Saturday, $10.00 adults, $7.00 children; 13 June concert, $5.00; weekend and family passes available

Web: or
Clans that will be represented at this year's Scottish Festival and Highland Games include:
Baird Cameron Campbell Carmichel
Crawford Donald Ferguson Forsyth
Gordon Graham Grant Gregor
Hamilton Keith Kennedy Kerr
Lindsay Lamont Macfarlane Mackay
Maclachlan Macnab Macnichol Macpherson
Macrae Matheson Maxwell Melville
Moffat Montgomery Morrison Muir
Ross Scott Stewart


The 35th Annual Scottish Festival & Highland Games, sponsored by the Utah Scottish Association, serves up the culture and traditions of Scotland through music, dance, athletic competitions, food and more.

Specials guests this year include the James J. Coynes Memorial Pipe Band from California, as well as popular entertainers Wicked Tinkers, Molly's Revenge and Men of Worth.

Things kick off Friday 12 June 2009 with a Tattoo and end Saturday 13 June 2009 with a special concert.

Saturday features dance and piping competitions, as well as athletic contests, such as the caber toss, stone throw, sheaf toss and 56-pound weight toss. There will be sheep dog and falconry demonstrations and more.

There will also be Scottish food (yes, even haggis) and other vendors. Visitors may also register to win a trip to Scotland.

For more information, visit

Gentlemen — The Tartan!

Here's to it!
The fighting sheen of it,
The yellow, the green of it,
The white, the blue of it,
The swing, the hue of it,
The dark, the red of it,
Every thread of it!
The fair have sighed for it,
The brave had died for it,
Foemen sought for it,
Heroes fought for it,
Honour the name of it,
Drink to the fame of it —


— Murdoch Maclean





Alba Gu Brath! 0646 Hours, 09 June 2009

Mo Chairdean Agus Mo Cinneadh:

I really enjoyed reading this article, and will be sharing it on FACEBOOK, and with others in my e-mail address book.

I sure wish I could be there to participate, but I'm thousands of miles away, and living on a pension.

As for myself, I was adopted when I was a baby, and grew up with no knowledge of my Scottish heritage.

I didn't learn of it until just a few years ago, when I was in Utah serving a Church mission, guarding a cattle ranch.

The irony is, I was raised in Cumberland County, North Carolina, an area heavily settled by Scots.

But, now, I wear my tartan kilt, with my sword, and my military decorations, as I attend the local Scottish and Celtic festivals.

As the officially appointed bard, I struggle to learn a little Gaelic, and I composed my first Scottish songs.

Our clan chief lives in Australia, and our clan is descended from a king of the Picts.

Tapadh leibh agus slainte mhath!

Is Mise Le Meas,

John Robert Mallernee
Official Bard of Clan Henderson
Armed Forces Retirement Home
Washington, D.C. 20011-8400


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