Thursday, April 19, 2012

Sassy Scottish Lassie

I’ve always loved the sound of bagpipes.  There is something about that strange sound (which produces such poignant and beautiful music) that touches my soul in a way that I cannot explain.  Listening to bagpipes was not something that we often did in my house when I was a child.  Probably the first time I ever heard the sound of a bagpipe was on that new and wonderful television set we finally got when I was in the second grade.  Nonetheless, when I first heard the sound, I was moved to tears, a phenomenon that still happens to me to this day. The music of the bagpipes fills my whole being with almost-painful feelings and deep longings.
I’ve heard of the theory of “genetic memory,” but being the reasonable and logical person that I am, I have a hard time accepting the idea that the memories and experiences of my ancestors could be passed down to me. Yet even from childhood, I loved and was deeply drawn to all things Scottish, especially to that peculiar music. 
My Mother was a Wallace, but since we never really knew her father or his family, my Wallace ancestry never made a very big impression on me.  I do remember hearing that we were “Scotch-Irish” and found out years later the origin of that term: groups of Scotsmen who had moved for one reason or another to land in Ireland before coming to the new world. (There is ever so much more to that story, but that’s for another time.)
I actually remember my Mother saying things like “let’s get under the kivers.”  Kivers is apparently an old Scots-Irish/mountain term for quilts or covers - a fact that I didn’t know until just a few years ago.  Words and terms like that, along with the German phrases that my Grandmother would often say (her mother was a Zeigler), were just a part of our everyday life.  

Wallace Clan Tartan
When I first began researching my family’s history, I focused mainly on my Love family heritage. However, when I decided to research that Wallace line, I was fairly surprised at the number of Scottish families who were a part of my lineage. Some of those surnames include: Wallace, McReynolds, Smiley, Wilson, Thompson, and King.  In point of fact, members of those particular families actually arrived on the American continent sometime in the early 1700s, and groups of each family appear to have travelled (often together) down the Appalachian Mountains from Pennsylvania into North Carolina and Tennessee.  My line moved from Tennessee up to Indiana. They married each other, built new homes (often uprooting and moving again), and embraced life in a huge and exciting new frontier. They were amazing people.
I’m very proud to have that Scots heritage. Interestingly enough, on my Love side I actually descend from the Crawford family, a family which included Margaret Crawford, mother of the famous William Wallace. The Scots appear to be all around me and, evidently, deeply embedded into my genetic code.
So naturally, it stood to reason that when I married the love of my life, he was a Scotsman!  Years ago, when my husband and I prepared to join the Clan Maitland Society of North America, I found that in order for me to be a member, I had to make a pledge to renounce the wearing of any other clan’s tartan.  That really hurt.  The idea that I would not ever be able to wear the Wallace Clan tartan was sad, but there was something about that ancient and sacred tradition that appealed to me.  It somehow seemed right; I would give up my clan in order to join my husband’s.  I could almost hear the bagpipes play as those fighting Wallaces shouted a ‘highlander yell’ at my marrying into that noble Clan Maitland.
Clan Maitland Tartan
Hmmm…maybe there is something to that genetic memory thing. 


  1. Give up wearing your own tartan? That sounds rather... harsh. Jo :-)

    1. Indeed...I thought so, too. The Maitlands are evidently very proud, shall we kindly say, of their own tartan and clan!

      Thanks for reading the post! :)