The “Outlander” Series has captured the hearts and imaginations of millions and fueled interest in Scottish History and intrigue. However, if you have roots in Randolph County you don’t have to travel through the stones……..look no further than your own backyard.
I first attended “The Grandfather Mountain Highland Games” in 2006. The Clan McAlister Society welcomed us into the McAlister Tent, signed us up as members and kindled flames that quickly grew into a passion for Highland Games, Scottish History and McAlister genealogy. The Grandfather Mountain Highland Games, or the Loch Norman Highland Games, both here in North Carolina are excellent places to explore your Scottish roots. Check their sites for updates on 2021 events. www.GMHG.org and www.lochnorman.com
McAlisters come from the Kintyre Peninsular and Southern Isles of Scotland. Alisdair Mor, 2nd son of Donald of Islay, was the progenitor of the McAlisters. They descended from Somerled, King of the Isles in the 13th. Century. They were the senior branch of the Powerful Clan Donald until about 600 years ago when the Lord Lyon of Scotland recognized McAlisters as a “Clan” in their own right. Our Chief today is William St. John Somerville McAlester of Loup and Kennox. Having pledged my service to the McAlister Clan I proudly wear or display the “Clan Badge” at Scottish Games and Events. The Motto “Fortiter” means Boldly!
But what about the McAlister Family Crest? There are often questions about Family Crests Vs Clan Badges. In English Heraldry there are Family Crests that are displayed by any member of the family, but in Scotland a Crest belongs not to a family, but to an individual. It is illegal in Scotland to display a Crest that is not your own.
My own line of McAlisters came directly into North Carolina. In 1736, Coll McAlister and his son Col. Alexander McAlister sailed on an exploratory mission to visit the settlements in the North Carolina. Landing at the mouth of the Cape Fear River, they liked what they found. Returning to Scotland they told family and friends of the beautiful land that in many ways seemed familiar to the hills of Kintyre. Selling their possessions, and in concert with MacNeils and Campbells, they bought a ship called “the Thistle” and in 1739 sailed again bringing over 350 family’s to North Carolina.
Col. Alexander McAlister had 16 children in North Carolina. He served during the Revolutionary War as a Patriot with the Cumberland County militia, in the provincial congress and state senate. His grandson Alexander Cary McAlister made his home in Asheboro and served with the 46th North Carolina Regiment during the Civil War. If you’re a civil war buff, I recommend the book “Letters Home” by Brad Foley, a collection of letters between Col. A.C. McAlister and his wife, Adelaide Worth McAlister. Check out www.clanmacalistersociety.org and www.clanmcalister.org
So perhaps you’re still wondering about that “Lost Colony” connection? Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Paul Green born in Lillington, NC , descendant of Coll McAlister wrote the play “The Lost Colony” and another of historical interest for McAlisters, “The Highland Call”.
Stewart “McAlister” Flora
Clan MacAlister Society